Burrowing owls are present in North America, and breed across the grassland regions of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. They occur in all states west of the Mississippi Valley, breed south through the western and mid-western States. A separate subspecies is found in Florida and the Caribbean Islands. They extend south into Mexico, Central America and South America but populations have declined in many areas due to human-caused habitat loss or alteration. Birds from the northern part of the U.S. and Canada are migratory.
The majority of burrowing owls in Canada breed in the prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan with only occasional sightings in Manitoba. Occasional wild returns also occur into British Columbia but today, most of the owls are from captive release birds and their offspring. A few birds return each year to the breeding grounds and the numbers are growing.
United States Distribution:
From western Minnesota and Iowa south to northern Texas and west to California. Today, its range is considerably smaller, particularly in the east. It is now absent from Minnesota, Iowa, the eastern parts of the Dakotas, and south to central Oklahoma and central Texas.
BC Distribution Historically:
Burrowing owls in British Columbia bred mainly in the Okanagan-Similkameen and south Thompson basins: Osoyoos, Oliver, Penticton, White Lake, Coldstream, Okanagan Landing, Knutsford, Savona, Kamloops, Douglas Lake and Lulu Island in the Fraser Delta. Occasional records exist over a slightly wider area in southern British Columbia: east to the Kootenay River valley, north to Horsefly in the interior, and north to Comox on the coast.
BC Range Today:
Captive breeding and release program is centred in the Nicola Valley (low, medium and high elevation grasslands), extending from Nicola Lake north, Beresford area. Additional release areas near Kamloops, Lac du Bois grasslands. Migratory returns include these regions and south Okanagan Valley including Oliver, Osoyoos areas.