Burrowing Owls in the neighborhood again

Last year, advocates for a family of Burrowing Owls that had made their home in a local school athletic field were successful in protecting them. The burrows were roped off and marked, and the district re-scheduled games scheduled for that field to a new location.IMG_6385This year the Burrowing Owls are back! They are a ‘species of special concern’, “protected from harassment and/or disturbance by state law” (FFWC) and by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

These little guys are a real treat to watch!  Burrowing Owls live in small groups, usually in burrows dug by other mammals (though they are capable of digging their own). IMG_6381“The burrowing owl spends most of its time on the ground, where its sandy brown plumage provides camouflage from potential predators. One of Florida’s smallest owls, it averages nine inches in height with a wingspan of 21 inches.” (Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission).IMG_6383They eat insects and small mammals and feed mostly at night. But they appear to be diurnal as they are also active and hunt during the day. They bob up and down (a rather comical sight!) when agitated. They are also very clever – “The Burrowing Owl collects mammal dung and puts it in and around its burrow. The dung attracts dung beetles, which the owl then captures and eats.”  

For more interesting facts about Burrowing Owls, see All About Birds and Audubon.

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