We estimated relative abundance and density of Western Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) at two sites in the Mojave Desert (200304). We made modifications to previously established Burrowing Owl survey techniques for use in desert shrublands and evaluated several factors that might influence the detection of owls. We tested the effectiveness of the call-broadcast technique for surveying this species, the efficiency of this technique at early and late breeding stages, and the effectiveness of various numbers of vocalization intervals during broadcasting sessions. Only 1 (3) of 31 initial (new) owl responses was detected during passive-listening sessions. We found that surveying early in the nesting season was more likely to produce new owl detections compared to surveying later in the nesting season. New owls detected during each of the three vocalization intervals (each consisting of 30 sec of vocalizations followed by 30 sec of silence) of our broadcasting session were similar (37, 40, and 23; n 30). We used a combination of detection trials (sighting probability) and double-observer method to estimate the components of detection probability, i.e., availability and perception. Availability for all sites and years, as determined by detection trials, ranged from 46.158.2. Relative abundance, measured as frequency of occurrence and defined as the proportion of surveys with at least one owl, ranged from 19.232.0 for both sites and years. Density at our eastern Mojave Desert site was estimated at 0.09 ?? 0.01 (SE) owl territories/km2 and 0.16 ?? 0.02 (SE) owl territories/km2 during 2003 and 2004, respectively. In our southern Mojave Desert site, density estimates were 0.09 ?? 0.02 (SE) owl territories/km2 and 0.08 ?? 0.02 (SE) owl territories/km 2 during 2004 and 2005, respectively. ?? 2010 The Raptor Research Foundation, Inc.
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Estimates of density, detection probability, and factors influencing detection of burrowing owls in the Mojave Desert