PHOENIX (KSAZ) - They're the only owls in the world that live part of their lives underground, hence the name burrowing owls, and today, Audubon Arizona along with Bank of America volunteers are hoping to help the species out.
"The burrowing owls are losing habitat at a rapid rate throughout the West and the birds are known to be in harms way," Cathy Wise said. "We found that you can safely trap the birds and move them to a new area."
Today, that's the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration area and their Downtown Owls Project. Man-made burrows have been constructed under large black tents. Eight owls have been living in one for about a month and Ranger Miller has been able to see it all.
"We're trying to reintroduce the plants and animals of the riparian area to the heart of Phoenix and brining in these owls is a great addition," he said.
Today, they're removing the tents to see how the birds react and then for the first time, grad students, like Dejeanne Doublet with New Mexico State University, will track each bird's progress using transmitters.
"A couple of key questions that we're hoping to answer are are trans locations working, and how can we improve these locations for the burrowing owls," she says.
It's putting numbers to what the Audubon says has been a successful program since 2013. They've rescued more than 100 owls with the help from volunteers, says Director of Development George Martinez.
"We're passionate about birds, passionate about the environment, and we're passionate about getting people to actively improve the environment," he said.
For more information on the burrowing owls project, click here.