We examined factors that influenced the presence of nesting Western Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia hypugaea) along roadsides and irrigation water-conveyance systems within an intensive agricultural area in Imperial Valley, southeastern California. We conducted walking line-transect surveys along randomly selected 1-km segments of roads to examine the types of roadside attributes and agricultural crops that were associated with the presence of nesting Burrowing Owls. Occupied burrows were more likely to be located along roadsides adjacent to fields where crops were present, but we found no obvious association with any particular type of crop. However, the type (concrete delivery canal or earthen drainage ditch), number, and location of irrigation trenches between the road and the agricultural field affected the likelihood of detecting owl nests. We failed to detect any effect of trench depth or whether the road was paved on the presence of Burrowing Owls. We found more occupied burrows on roads running north/south than on those going east/west. Our results suggest that water delivery methods, trench construction, and maintenance practices affect suitability of agricultural areas for Burrowing Owls in the Imperial Valley of California.
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Vol. 44 • No. 4