This past week, I went with three other photographers down to Cape Coral to photograph the burrowing owls. We had a blast photographing these adorable little owls. The one in this photo kept giving me “the eye.” It was difficult to select only one photo which best represented this week’s theme, but I chose this one for the composition and hint of spring that the wild flowers represented. Some history of the burrowing owls in Cape Coral: Cape Coral also has the distinction of having the largest population of the Florida species of the Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia floridana) in the State, with an estimated 1000 nesting pair.
At only 5-8.5 ounces and7.5-11 inches tall, the Burrowing Owl is one of the smallest of all the owls, and of the 171 species of owls worldwide, the only owl that lives underground. Unlike the Western species of the Burrowing Owl (athene cunicularia hypugaea) that lives in abandoned prairie dog burrows, here in Florida our Burrowing Owls dig their own burrows. Cape Coral has upwards of 2500 burrows within the City limits, but not all of them are actively being used by owls.
Photographers and birders alike come from all over the world to see our Burrowing Owls, and everyone is amazed at how easy it is to see and photograph these beautiful little birds. This doesn’t come without a price. Over the years, one of the main locations to see the Burrowing Owls is the Cape Coral Library. There were multiple burrows located on the streets surrounding the library, all of them very active. Today, only one burrow is still active and it is thought that there was just too much human activity for the owls, and they moved on. While the owls are quite tolerant of humans, getting too close to them too often will cause them to abandon a burrow and move on to a quieter location.
While some of the Western Burrowing Owls migrate, the Burrowing Owls here in Cape Coral do not migrate. They are here year round, but often hide in the summer to avoid the hot summer sun. The best time to see the owls is from January through June, and the best time to see the chicks is late April through June. REFhttp://www.ccfriendsofwildlife.org/burrowing-owl/