Burrowing Owl

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!

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Burrowing Owl habitat – can you spot the single owl?  (dead center)


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Burrowing Owl


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Burrowing Owl on guard at the entrance of its burrow


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Burrowing Owl


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Burrowing Owl


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.  😊



54 thoughts on “Burrowing Owl

  1. Nice little owl! Congratulations, for your #202, Donna. It was a funny end of the story. 🙂 👍

  2. Looks a little cross! I didn’t realize how tiny they were until I saw one at a birding event.Appreciated the smile re the tp. Congratulations on another addition to your list.

    • Thank you, Jane! It does look a little cross! S/he seemed to be half snoozing, half on watch when I got there. I had a couple shots where it heard something and the eyes went wide open, but I missed the focus. Of course, lol.

    • Thank you, Cindy! How wonderful Marco Island city council is stepping up to help them more! They said that many people have called to be burrow hosts and don’t even care about the money, they just want to help. Thank you, burrow hosts!!

  3. Great photos, I was just in Cape Coral and got to see these beautiful birds around the neighborhood I was in. I like that they fence off their areas so no one can bother them. I would let them nest in my yard if I lived there.

    • Thank you, Belinda! There is a grocery store cross the street from this protected nesting. He bought early-on after sensing the impending chaos that was to occur. 😉 I bet those babies down in the burrows that will hatch in couple months will be comfy. 😊

  4. Not just a chuckle…I laughed out loud! Too funny Donna! Soooo glad this little one made an appearance for you! Beautiful shots! I just love their piercing yellow eyes!

    • Thank you, Carol! Maybe one of us should toss a roll into the territory for future use! 😊 I hoping we’ll both get to see the babies before we’ve got to leave this paradise!

  5. Oh, what a charming bird. I love how he seems to be giving you “the eye” 😀
    Very happy you could view another “lifer”. Hope you and your husband are doing well!

    • Thank you, Takami! They stand no taller than 8″, so adorable! I think he wasn’t too happy me interrupting his nap. 🙂 We are doing well, hope you and your husband are too!

  6. How wonderful! I love the toilet paper. I have only seen these owls in the zoo. Excellent that they are adapting to the man-made burrows. If we could all just create habitats in our backyards…

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