Understanding patterns of dispersal is key to developing effective conservation plans, yet dispersal is poorly known for most species. We radio-tracked 15 adult burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) from 13 nests within the Carrizo Plain National Monument in southern California. Our goal was to describe post-breeding movements in this extensive grassland system. Of nests that failed (n = 9 nests), 8 radio-tagged individuals from 7 nests dispersed, whereas none of the owls from successful nests (n = 4 nests) dispersed. Dispersal distances ranged from 0.2 km to 53 km (median = 3.1 km). The large dispersal distances we observed within the breeding season were greater than previously published estimates of between-year breeding dispersal based on mark-recapture methods and provide insight into the lack of genetic differentiation observed among burrowing owl populations.
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Vol. 155 • No. 1