The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Burrowing owls face endangerment crisis

Matthew Law
Birdwatcher Aaroha Save looks for birds while hiking during the day. On each occasion, he always brings his binoculars and camera with him. “I normally take photos in the spring since that’s when most birds are active,” Save said.

Burrowing owls are on the verge of extinction in California due to habitat loss and lack of state protection. 

The status of burrowing owls is classified as “localized extinction” in the Bay Area. Only under 30 breeding pairs remain in the Bay Area as of 2017, according to the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS)

“A factor I believe contributes heavily to their recent decline is habitat loss,” said avid birdwatcher Aaroha Save. “More and more land is being dedicated to houses and roads, leaving less untouched space for the owls to nest.” 

According to the Defenders of Wildlife, burrowing owl populations must remain untouched by climate mitigation efforts as such actions often increase the biodiversity crisis

In addition, burrowing owls contribute to the ecological balance of California’s wildlife by preying on unwanted animals and insects. 

“I think that burrowing owls serve not just as a reminder of how unique nature can be at times but also play a key role in the ecosystems they inhabit,” Save said. “These owls eat large insects and small rodents, both of which feed on crops we humans eat.” 

For many experts, the decay of burrowing owl numbers highlights California’s issue with protecting wildlife as it worsens yearly. 

Furthermore, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, burrowing owls were prevalent in California until recent decades. 

A one-legged burrowing owl perches on a wooden post. (Happy Superb Owl Sunday! / Matthew Paulson / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED)

“When a formerly common species disappears from our landscape, what does it say about the health of our ecosystems?” said Shani Kleinhaus, an environmental advocate at SCVAS. “Abundant burrowing owls once brought so much joy to residents of our valley, but development has pushed them to the brink of extinction.” 

For others, the extinction of one species could lead to the next, disappointing many local birdwatchers in the Bay Area. Also, birdwatchers from outside the Bay Area and beyond travel from place to place to spot different species. 

“What attracted me to bird watching was how many beautiful species of birds can be found anywhere if you look hard enough,” Save said. “As for burrowing owls, I find them interesting as they are some of the only underground-dwelling birds in all of America.” 

Nate Dempsey, a sophomore at Carlmont High School, reminds himself and his siblings to take care of the environment to protect wildlife.

“I make sure not to litter and use recycling whenever possible,” Dempsey said. “I also try to teach my siblings about when to use trash or recycling.”

Many communities in the Bay Area strive to protect the wildlife that lives there. 

“Overall, we as a community should give our utmost effort to preserve wildlife as much as possible so that the generations can appreciate the beauty we take for granted,” Save said. 

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About the Contributor
Matthew Law
Matthew Law, Staff Writer
Matthew Law (Class of 2026) enjoys tennis, piano, listening to music, and spending time with friends. He covers local news, including San Carlos/Belmont and the Bay Area. As a journalist, he aims to inform the local community to raise awareness about significant events and developments around them.

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