Burrowing Owl

Tennessee’s First Burrowing Owl Observed in Humphreys County!

It may have been April Fool’s Day, but Tammy Ross’s eBird report of a Burrowing Owl in Humphreys County was no joke.

Sadly, the Burrowing Owl was discovered on TVA fossil plant property that is not open to the public. However, where the is a will there is a way, and a few birders found that the bird can be viewed from the Herbert Sand & Gravel work area, along Herbert Rd by climbing a dirt mound and looking into the TVA site. A scope is required and the views are not great, but it is better than nothing.

The birders obtained permission from Mr. Herbert to enter his property and climb on top of a large dirt mound to view the owl. From Mark Greene’s eBird report,

We spoke with Mr. Herbert and another employee from Herbert Sand & Gravel and told them what we were doing and they were okay with it as long as vehicles parked off the road and folks stayed out of the way. There’s only enough room for 2-3 vehicles to park near the dirt/sand mound. It’s not an easy hike up to the top of the dirt mound and it takes some patience to find the exact spot. Once on top, you only have a very short window of time to view the bird before it goes to roost. Bird was visible from about first light (around 6:05 or so). We had to go down and talk to the sand/gravel folks during the ideal viewing time and by the time we got back up at about 6:30 the bird was no longer in view. A good scope is absolutely required to see the bird and viewing conditions are less than ideal and distant but we could definitely see the bird. Thanks to Ruben & Victor Stoll and Alan Troyer for doing the reconnaissance and figuring out the best place we could view from without being on TVA property.”

The Burrowing owl is best viewed at Sunrise, or at Sunset, and has been observed as recently as today, April 8, 2021.

Victor Stoll’s eBird comments on the Tennessee Rare Bird Alert Facebook Group provide detailed instructions, and photos, on how to locate the bird from a top the dirt mound.

If you chase this bird, please car pool as there is very limited parking, and Mr. Herbert has specifically requested that ALL observers have their cars entirely off the road and out of the way.