Florida’s dwindling population of Burrowing Owls are having trouble finding homes. These pint-sized owls were listed as threatened in 2017 by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Marco Island and Cape Coral on Florida’s Gulf Coast hosts Florida’s largest urban Burrowing Owl populations. Approximately 500 Burrowing Owls live on Marco Island with about 95% of them living on vacant lots.
In January 2020, the Marco Island City Council agreed to set aside $5,000 every year to pay residents $250 who agree to host burrows in their yard for these vulnerable birds. Wildlife crews will dig the holes, and then it’s up to the owls to move in. From 2017 to 2019, almost 100 burrows were dug with Burrowing Owl residency occurring in about 1/3 of them so far. How cool is that!
After my two previous visits and no sightings to one of their already established and protected grounds, this morning I was able to finally see and photograph my first Burrowing Owl.
Yes, another lifer for me; thank you #202, the Burrowing Owl!
Burrowing Owl habitat – can you spot the single owl? (dead center)
Burrowing Owl on guard at the entrance of its burrow
See all the white spots around the owl’s burrow? It is shredded toilet paper!
Per “Owl Watch,” a volunteer-run group under the management of Audubon of the Western Everglades’ statement, “Looking for toilet paper? Ask the owls – looks like this pair has plenty! Burrowing owls decorate their burrows at the start of nesting season as part of their courtship, using whatever materials they can find around their burrows. This owl seems to have found a stockpile of toilet paper to shred and display!”
I hope that rose a chuckle from you in these trying, empty-shelf times. 😊