Athene cunicularia


 
back
 
Antigua Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia amaura)

 
syn. Speotyto amaura, Speotyto cunicularia amaura

 
distribution:

Antigua and Barbuda: Antigua, Redonda
Saint Kitts and Nevis: Nevis, Saint Kitts

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: last seen in 1905 (?)

 
The Burrowing Owl is a small, terrestrial owl, which is very conspicuous because of its proportionally quite long legs.

The birds inhabit open, dry habitats with a rather sparse vegetation and breed in underground burrows, which are either adopted from other animals or dug by the birds themselves.

This species is found quite widespread in North-, Middle- and South America and has evolved a lot of subspecies, among them several on the Caribbean Islands.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The disappearance of the Burrowing Owl from many of the Caribbean Islands was caused in some cases probably by climatical changes, in other cases human activities are clearly responsible. In the case of the Antigua Burrowing Owl the extinction was caused by the introduction of Indian Mongooses (Herpestes javanicus), which hunted the unsuspicious owls to exterminate them in the end completely.

Only five specimens are all that has been left of this subspecies until today.

 
Marie Galante Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia guadeloupensis)

 
syn. Speotyto cunicularia guadeloupensis

 
distribution:

Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe (?), Marie Galante

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: last seen 1898

 
This subspecies is known with certainty only from the island Marie Galante, but may as well have lived on nearby Guadeloupe Island.

This form died out too after the introduction of Indian Mongooses (Herpestes javanicus) to the island.

 
Barbuda Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia ssp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Antigua and Barbuda: Barbuda

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: (?)

 
This form is known based on subfossil reamins and may have been identical to the Antigua Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia amaura).

 
Cayman Islands Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia ssp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Cayman Islands: Cayman Brac

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: (?)

 
Subfossil remains of the Burrowing Owl have been found on Cayman Brac, the largest of the Cayman Islands.

 
Jamaican Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia ssp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Jamaica

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: (?)

 
Subfossil remains of the Burrowing Owl are also known from Jamaica.

The reasons for its disappearance from this relative large island are unknown.

 
Isla Mona Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia ssp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Puerto Rico: Isla de Mona

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: (?)

 
This form is known on the basis of subfossil remains and may be identical with the form from Puerto Rico.

 
Puerto Rico Burrowing Owl
(Athene cunicularia ssp.)

 
syn. -

 
distribution:

Puerto Rico: Puerto Rico

 
local name: -

 
size: (?)

extinction date: (?)

 
This form is known on the basis of subfossil remains and may be identical with the form from Isla de Mona.

 
References:

- David W. Steadman; Gregory K. Pregill; Storrs L. Olson: Fossil Vertebrates from Antigua, Lesser Antilles: Evidence for late Holocene human-caused extinctions in the West Indies. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Vol. 81, pp. 4448-4451, July 1984
- Dieter Luther: Die ausgestorbenen Vögel der Welt. Westarp Wissenschaften 1986
- James W. Wiley: Breeding Season Food Habits of Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) in Southwestern Dominican Republic. J. Raptor Res. 32(3): 241-245. 1998