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A Burrowing Owl in the Boroughs

July 7, 2019

A Burrowing Owl in the Boroughs

- as seen by -

Jen Kepler Jen Kepler

I am always looking at birds, even when I’m not birding.

Pulling into a parking lot for horseshoe crab monitoring, I see a bird that does not register in my mental Rolodex™ of local birds. With a very suave turn of its head, our eyes lock, and I immediately recognize this mega-rarity, a burrowing owl. It is just sitting on a fence post at a construction site in Broad Channel, Queens, New York.

I experience a wide range of excitement and emotions seeing this bird for the first time ever in the wild, and it is here in New York City just a few feet from me in the most unlikely of places. It is another reminder of why birding is a pipeline to discovery and adventure, especially when I get to find possibly the seventh record of this bird in all of New York state.

Nikon D5100, Nikkor 200-500mm Lens

Queens, USA Map It


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Denise McClean
July 12, 2019 at 3:31 pm

Congratulations on such a significant spotting. And what an incredible image too!

Jennifer A. Morrissy
September 3, 2020 at 10:45 pm

Today September 3rd, 2020, sitting in my Ossining, New York apartment kitchen, that is to say, in a suburb about 35 miles north of NYC, I heard, twice, the distinct sound of a rattle snake coming from an open window. It was quite frightening. My apartment is just a bit above ground level and I wondered is there an insect that sounds like a rattlesnake, googled it and came up with the Burrowing Owl, who can make this sound. It’s night time so I really can’t see what’s out there but I’d prefer to think it’s this unusual species of owl rather than a rattlesnake.

    Nancy Cole
    September 30, 2020 at 7:01 pm

    Last week, in the middle of the night ,here in White Plains,I too heard the rattle snake sound. How can we be sure it was the burrowing
    Owl? Are there any day time signs to look for?