Burrowing Owls are common in west Texas, but hard to find near the big cities.
Those in Austin and San Antonio have some local options, but Houston and DFW residents will usually have to travel.
The Best Spots to See Burrowing Owls in Texas:
- Granger – County Roads 356 & 352 north of the lake
- San Antonio – Mechler Lane
- El Paso – Ascarate Park & Rio Bosque Park
- Midland – Rose Acres (County Road 1150)
- Lubbock – McAllister Park, Wood Avenue
- Amarillo – Greenways Park
- Marathon – Highway 385 Prairie Dog Town
- McAllen – Anzalduas Park & Border Road
These small owls are diurnal, meaning active during the day. They can be seen any time of day, but activity is usually high during morning hours.
Burrowing Owls are ground-dwelling, rarely seen more than six feet above the ground. Don’t bother searching in tall trees, instead check woody shrubs, fence posts, hay bails, and on bare dirt.
Burrowing Owls in Granger near Austin
Where: CR 356 & 352
When: Late October through Early March
The best spot to see a Burrowing Owl near Austin is in Granger along County Roads 356 and 352. The owls are present from October to March.
This small town northeast of Austin is known in the birding community for great winter birds. It’s also hosted several Burrowing Owls since around 2010 that return each winter.
To find an owl, start on County Road 356 north of Granger Lake. Drive slowly while looking at perches. Fences, road signs, poles, hay bales, anything a small owl could sit on top of. It can be close to the road or at a distance.
As you near the intersection of CR 352, there’s a single house to the north with a long caliche driveway. Sometimes an owl will hide in the water drainage pipe buried under the driveway. Don’t disturb the people who live here!
At County Road 352 you can turn north and continue driving slowly while scanning perches. You’re past the typical area of owl sightings once you hit Alligator Road.
Burrowing Owls in San Antonio
Where: Mechler Lane south of Highway 90
When: Late October through Mid March
The best spot near San Antonio to see a Burrowing Owl is along Melcher Lane east of Castroville. The owls are present from October to March.
Just east of Castroville, west of San Antonio, is Mechler Lane where several Burrowing Owls have been seen since at least 2012.
Most sightings occur in the middle third of this road, between Highway 90 and Gross Lane. They can appear anywhere relatively low to the ground, but pay extra attention to drainage areas. Metal water drainage pipes can be used as a burrow, and the owls will make a seasonal home in them.
If you strike out, you can make another slow pass up Mechler Lane, or try your luck one road over along Jungman Road where small handful of sightings exist over the past several years.
Burrowing Owls in El Paso
Where: Ascarate Park, Rio Bosque Park
The best spots to see Burrowing Owls in El Paso is Ascarate Park and Rio Bosque Park. The owls are present year-round.
Ascarate Park is a general urban park along a lake, while Rio Bosque is a wetlands and nature park. Both are reliable for Burrowing Owls, and families of owls are often seen together.
At Ascarate look near large metal pipes on the ground that serve as burrows for the owls. Also check low to medium height perches like electrical boxes, fences, and anything else under 6 feet tall that owls could perch on.
Rio Bosque park is best in late fall and winter for general bird watching because that’s when the wetlands are flooded. But Burrowing Owls are always around.
At Rio Bosque Park look near the entrance for an artificial/man-made burrow under a pile of rocks. It will be obvious because of the flat wood piece used as a roof over the tunnel, held up by four metal rods.
Burrowing Owls in Midland
Where: County Road 1150
The best place in Midland to see Burrowing Owls is southeast of town along County Road 1150, around Cole Park. The owls are present year-round.
Burrowing Owls utilize prairie dog burrows here, so carefully scan the ground and bare patches of dirt. They can also be perched up on poles and fence posts.
The whole rectangular lot between Cole Park and County Road 120 can have owls, bounded by County roads 1150 and 1140. Slowly drive around and check the whole area. You can even poke into the center of the lot on County Road 110, which quickly dead ends.
Burrowing Owls in Lubbock
Where: McAllister Park, Lubbock Lake Landmark, Wood Avenue north of FM 835
The best places in Lubbock to see Burrowing Owls are McAllister Park, Lubbock Lake Landmark, and Wood Avenue north of FM 835. The owls are present year-round.
At McAllister Park the owls will likely be on the ground near a burrow, so scan bare patches of dirt. Keep in mind that Burrowing Owls are well camouflaged against bare ground! Multiple owls are often reported at this location.
At Lubbock Lake Landmark scan the ground for small bare patches where the burrows are. There may be a slight mound to help indicate their location. Usually only a single owl is reported at this location.
Wood Avenue, or County Road 2800, often hosts between 1 and 3 owls at a time. Search for burrow mounds on the ground, as well as poles and fence posts where Burrowing Owls may be perched. If you strike out then just go one road east along Fiddlewood Avenue and search there.
Burrowing Owls in Amarillo
Where: Greenways Park, McGee Lake
The best places in Amarillo to see Burrowing Owls are at Greenways Park, and the roads immediately surrounding McGee Lake.
At Greenways Park head to the east side of the ponds and look for a wood fence. This is where the Burrowing Owls usually hang out here. Sometimes they’ll perch on the fence, but could just as easily be on the ground. Spend some time searching this small area and you’ll likely see one or two owls.
At McGee Lake, Masterson Road is the main destination, but Burrowing Owls can be found along any of these rural roads. The owls may be on bare patches of dirt, dirt mounds, or perched on vegetation. Scanning the ground with binoculars from the side of the road will be the best way to find them.
Burrowing Owls in Marathon
Where: Along Highway 385
To see Burrowing Owls near Marathon, stop at the prairie dog town along Highway 385 located about 8 miles north of Highway 90.
The prairie dog town here is likely multiple towns scattered along this long stretch of 385. The habitat is perfect for prairie dogs, and there’s got to be hundreds of them out here, if not more.
Burrowing Owls will utilize the burrows of these prairie dogs, so this area always attracts a few owls as well. They can be tricky to spot, and appear any distance from the road, so scan carefully with binoculars or you may look right past them.
Most people stop at this spot on their way to and from Big Bend National Park. It’s fine for a quick birding stop along the way, but there’s easier places in Texas to find a Burrowing Owl, so this spot near Marathon ranks low on the list.
Burrowing Owls in McAllen
Where: Granjeno along Sharyland Road, Border Road north of Santa Ana NWR
When: November through March
The best places to see a Burrowing Owl in the Rio Grande Valley are south of McAllen. Check along Sharyland Road in Granjeno, and along Border Road between 281 and Dicker Road.
In Granjeno, drive onto Sharyland Road and look for the border wall to the west. There will be a pile of large rocks adjacent to the border wall that a Burrowing Owl likes to hang around. It’s often seen perched on top of a rock, so scan this area until you see it.
At least one Burrowing Owl has been spotted repeatedly in past years along Border Road north of Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and Highway 281. Your search will take more effort since there’s more ground to cover compared to the Granjeno spot. Most recent sightings are between Anaya Road and Dicker Road.