Burrowing Owl, the 2022 ABA Bird of the Year!

by Frank Izaguirre

Every ABA Bird of the Year has charm and character, but the 2022 Bird of the Year is arguably the world’s most charismatic bird species: the Burrowing Owl. Who has seen a Burrowing Owl, whether in person or in a photograph, and not marveled at the expressiveness of this small yet larger-than-life owl?

Christina Baal captures this quality superbly in her three electrifying paintings. Portraying the Burrowing Owl in three distinct parts of the ABA Area, we see the owls in the desert Southwest, the Badlands, and Florida. Each painting captures not just the character of this beloved species, but also the contours, beauty, and tensions of the dramatic landscapes where these owls live. Be sure to read Christina’s artist interview in the January issue of Birding to learn more about the techniques she used to create these works and some of the surprising inspirations that influenced how these owls came to be on the canvas.

In the ABA Area, there are two subspecies of Athene cunicularia, hypugaea and floridana, both represented in Christina’s art and both facing their own challenges as they attempt to adapt to human pressures. We hope ABA members enjoy Christina’s art and all of our Bird of the Year content, whether at the reveal party, in Birding, on our website, or anywhere else.

Have you seen a Burrowing Owl, and if so, when and where? And if you see a Burrowing Owl in 2022, consider submitting to Birding magazine’s Celebrations column by writing to iseritan@aba.org!