In Spanish, burrowing owls (Athene cunicularia) are called lechucitas de las vizcacheras. Lechucita means diminutive owl (lechuza) — as adults, these owls only stand about 8-10 inches tall. And vizcachera is for the burrow of the vizcacha, a South American rodent that resembles a rabbit. Vizcachas dig burrows that could be used as nesting sites by the owls when abandoned.
In coastal Argentine Patagonia where this photo was taken, the lechucitas often nest in the deserted burrows of the Patagonian cavy, a big and relatively rare rodent the size of a small deer.
EDITOR’ S NOTE: The story of burrowing owls at the Bronx Zoo was featured on Sunday’s episode of Animal Planet’s THE ZOO now in its third season. The series takes viewers behind the scenes at the Bronx Zoo and the other WCS wildlife parks in New York City to tell powerful, compelling stories of animals and their care givers, and the zoos’ contribution to conserving wildlife around the globe.