Bear River MBR, a safe haven for migrating birds

    Burrowing owls were once distributed broadly throughout western North America, but is now declining throughout all historic ranges. (Photo by Katie McVey, USFWS)

    BEAR RIVER MIGRATORY BIRD REFUGE — This 80,000 acres bird sanctuary lies in northern Utah, where the Bear River flows in a U-shape course through Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and back into Utah. It is the largest river in North America that does not ultimately reach the sea.

    These small owls are less than 12 inches tall, have long legs and a short tail. Western burrowing owls rely on the abandoned burrows of mammals like ground squirrels, prairie dogs, badgers, coyotes, and foxes.
    These small owls are less than 12 inches tall, have long legs and a short tail. Wikipedia photo.

    Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (MBR) protects the marshes found at the mouth of the Bear River, providing a critical habitat for migrating birds. More than 250 species move through this area annually by the millions to rest and feed, including burrowing owls. The Bear River is the largest tributary of the Great Salt Lake, draining a mountainous area and farming valleys northeast of the lake and southeast of the Snake River Plain.

    Burrowing Owls are listed as Endangered in Canada and Threatened in Mexico. They are considered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to be a Bird of Conservation Concern
    Burrowing Owls are listed as endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. USFWS photo.

    Burrowing owls can be found in open landscapes in both North and South America where they rest in burrows that were excavated by digging animals such as prairie dogs.

    According to Wikipedia, burrowing owls are active during daylight but do most of their hunting from dusk until dawn when they can use their night vision and hearing to their advantage. Living in open grasslands as opposed to the forest, the burrowing owl has developed longer legs, which enables it to sprint as well as fly when hunting.