Migration and dispersal are important ecological and evolutionary processes and understanding them is a requirement for species conservation efforts. Burrowing owl, Athene cunicularia, the North American equivalent of little owl, A. noctua, is migratory in the northern parts of its range. In Canada their populations have declined dramatically and are classified as endangered. Movements of burrowing owls have been studied using banding (ringing), VHF telemetry, stable isotopes, genetics (DNA), geolocators and satellite transmitters. Geolocators and satellite transmitters provide the most reliable information about migrations but to operate successfully they are both dependent upon exposure to sunlight, which can be limited for nocturnal owls. Ringing encounters and winter influxes of little owls into Spain, including the Balearic Islands, indicate that some migration movement may be occurring. A stable isotope study could determine if wintering owls in southern Europe includes owls originating in northern Europe.
Athene, Movements, Migration, Dispersal, Techniques
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