Part I – Burrowing Owls
Burrowing Owls are one of the smallest owls of the 171 species known world-wide. Adults will weigh between 5 – 8.5 ounces with a wing span up to 21″. They are the only owl that lives underground. Florida has a large population of these little owls. Although there are also Burrowing Owls in the western states, the species in Florida tends to be a little smaller.
I’ve had a lot of fun over the past 10 years photographing these very personable birds. I’ve included some of my favorite images in this post. I hope you will enjoy them!
The owls in the Cape Coral and Marco Island areas of Florida have become very used to humans and urban life building their underground nests in vacant lots and fields, adjacent to public buildings and homes, and pretty much anywhere close to a food source.
Since 2017 when they were declared by the state of Florida to be a threatened species, and with the help of volunteers and conservationists they have been protected. As burrows are discovered, the area is roped off and a perch is installed. Apparently, the little birds have adapted well to urban life as their numbers are increasing.
Photographers being respectful and at a distance have no problem finding subjects to photograph. The owl’s big eyes only move with a turn of the head so some of their expressions can be quite amusing.
(Click on an image for a larger version)
As in many bird species the female is somewhat larger than the male. I have a hard time telling them apart unless they’re close to each other. These images make them appear to be larger than they are, but they could easily be held in your hand.
The chicks are born in the underground burrow and both parents are responsible for their care and feeding. At around 10 days old they will begin to venture outside ready to quickly scurry back down under at a sign of trouble. Keeping a good distance and being very still I have been able to get shots of several families over the years.
These chicks are a little older, some are almost ready to fly and are trying out their wings. You can see that as they mature their eyes start to change from dark brown to the brilliant yellow of an adult.
I’ve enjoyed sharing these images and look forward to your comments and feedback. Part II of Owls will spotlight images of Snowy Owls. To be notified when it is posted just sign up at the top of this post.
Thanks for joining me, Cheryl