Burrowing Owl Sculpture Carries Message of Southwest Birds at Risk

Felt artist Kiyoshi Mino brings attention to Burrowing Owl conservation efforts through her new sculpture.

A charming felt sculpture of a Burrowing Owl is now on display at the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center. The artist, Kiyoshi Mino, made the owl expressly for the Rio Salado Audubon Center. The Center is open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m and Saturday 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Kiyoshi creates sculptures from wool using a technique called needle felting. The technique enables the artist to make remarkably life-like delicate sculptures. In recent years, Kiyoshi and fellow artists using the needle felting technique have seen their work gain in popularity and attract the interest of collectors.

The Burrowing Owl will draw the attention of Center visitors to its artistry and its message. Kiyoshi says, “The focus of my work is on wildlife and in particular, threatened or endangered species in the hopes that my work will inspire support for conservation efforts and to raise awareness of the environmental crises occurring around the world.” Burrowing Owls are at risk from habitat loss due to population growth and climate change.

Visitors to the Rio Salado Audubon Center can see the little owl, learn more about the bird’s plight, and sign up for our conservation workdays. Audubon Southwest partners with Wild at Heart to protect Burrowing Owls in the Phoenix area. Wild at Heart rescues the owls when their burrows are unearthed during land development. Audubon recruits volunteers to build artificial burrows where the owls can remain undisturbed and find food easily.

The sculpture was commissioned by a generous donor to support community appreciation of nature in the Southwest. Audubon protects Burrowing Owls and all birds in the Southwest through science, education, advocacy and on-the-ground conservation. To learn more about these owls and how to help them, visit the Rio Salado Audubon Center’s Downtown Owls webpage.

While the Burrowing Owl sculpture draws attention to the bird’s needs in Metro Phoenix, the sculpture joins a collection of works whereby Kiyoshi voices a greater concern for the environment: “I hope my art helps people see the beauty in biological diversity and serves as a call to action against human-generated climate change.” Follow Kiyoshi on Instagram at

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