Aruban burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia arubensis)
Papiamento name: shoko
The Aruban burrowing owl is an endemic sub-species of burrowing owl that occurs only on Aruba. This small, buffy-coloured owl is unmistakable because of its large, round yellow eyes, prominent whitish eyebrows and unusually long grey legs. Burrowing owls get their common name from their unusual habit of nesting underground in already dug-out burrows, although they are known to occasionally dig out their own. When the breeding season is over, the owls continue to use the borrows to rest during the day. Unlike most owl species, burrowing owls are often active during the day, although they hunt for food at night. Aruban burrowing owls are typically seen sitting in small family groups in areas of cactus scrub or dry forest. Sadly, they are seen less and less frequently. The Shoco’s population has greatly diminished in the last few decades and is now locally endangered, with estimates of less than 200 pairs remaining. Threats include overdevelopment and the invasive boa constrictor. While the owl is not currently protected on Aruba, many conservation efforts are underway to ensure that it does not go extinct. The Aruba Birdlife Conservation foundation has been at the heart of conservation efforts. Parke Nacional Arikok is also an important refuge where the population can recover. Park staff are actively involved in conservation efforts and monitor the owl’s population within the protected area.
Photo credit: Christian König (SHAPE/DCNA)
Dutch CaribbeanArubaParke Nacional ArikokArikok National ParkbiodiversitybirdowlStrigidaeburrowing owlAthene cunicularia arubensisshokoendemicSHAPE
From Aruba Shape