Who would have thought – An Owl that Lives Below Ground?

Yes indeed the Burrowing Owl digs its own burrow in which to lay and hatch its young!

In Cape Coral, Florida you are told to look for vacant building lots to search for Burrowing Owls (Athene Caunicularia).  This proves the Owls are a wise as legend has, because in Cape Coral their habitats are protected by law – if a vacant building lot has a Burrowing Owl nest you cannot build there!  Apparently over the past few years the Burrowing Owl population is in decline, so the protection laws might help stabalize their numbers.

The local Audubon Society have marked each “nest” with white plastic poles with orange tape attached.  They have also erected wooden “Ts” near the opening to the burrows which the Owls use as a perch.  The “nests” that I saw were all in residential areas, except one which was next to Borough Hall – perhaps awaiting planning permission?

The first image is included purely to provide the context, show the marking of the nest, the “T” and provide scale.


The following images are of Adults sitting on their various perches…..

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The next two images are of an Adult Burrowing Owl entering its burrow.  As it went in it was scooping the sandy soil with its powerful legs from the entrance directly behind itself ……




Then of course there are the young.  They are fascinating as they look a little shabby as they get their juvenile plumage, but start to have the bodily movements of the adults, especially around the head bobbing up and down and side to side. But just look at those eyebrows!  ………




This final image of the fledgeling reminds me of children playing “hide and seek”.  It is standing behind strands of tall grass and I imagine it is thinking “I can see you but you can’t see me!”.


Gear: Nikon D4; Nikkor 600mm f/4 VR II, Nikkor TC-20e III; RRS Tripod; RRS Gimbal Head; Lexar Digital Film

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