The Blog

Baby Burrowing Owls in Key Colony Beach

April 16, 2014 News

Baby owl

 

There are some new kids in town! Juvenile burrowing owls are a star  attraction for wildlife lovers and bird watchers on 10th street in an empty corner lot. Residents are visitors are welcome to view from a safe distance, but warned to please stay at least 20 feet away from the nest. Daddy owl is very protective. 

They were moved from West Ocean Drive to 10th street about 10 years ago. The nest was originally relocated to the far edge of the empty lot on the corner of 10th street that runs along West Ocean Drive. Over time a local Key Colony Beach resident found the new location of the owls had become a problem. Traffic was affected when  people would stop to photograph the owls and during heavy rain the area would flood.  A resident moved the nest once again to the opposite side of the empty lot furthest away from the main road. In addition to moving the nest he placed a pipe in the grass (which is now their home), and created high land above their home in case of flooding.  

 

The family of owls has been nesting in Key Colony Beach for (how many years)? Every year the male owl prepares the nest while patiently waiting for his mate to arrive. The male lives at this nest permanently. Once the young owls are old enough to leave the nest, the juveniles and the mother owl go their seperate ways. Then the cycle starts over again with the father owl preparing for his next mate. Florida Burrowing Owls are not migratory.  

This year there are four baby owls. These fluff balls are about 2 to 3 weeks old. 

The burrowing owl is one of Florida's smallest owls, according to the FWC. It stands about 9 inches tall (on relatively long legs for an owl) and has a wingspan of 21 inches. Where most Florida birds and wildlife see their habitat shrinking from human development, the burrowing owl's habitat is expanding. Their early Florida habitat was the wide open prairies of central Florida, but wherever man clears trees and puts in short ground cover, burrowing owls feel welcome. Airports, golf courses, and vacant lots in residential areas are popular with this cute little creature. 

"Burrowing owls use burrows year-round; for roosting during the winter and for raising young during the breeding season (Feb – July). Florida's owls typically dig their own burrows but will use gopher tortoise or armadillo burrows. Burrows extend 4 to 8 feet underground and are lined with materials such as grass clippings, feathers, paper, and manure," reads the FWC site.

 

Mother and Father owl with baby
Mother and Father owl with baby 

 

Burrowing Owls facts

  • Formally named Athene Cunicularia – Burrowing Owls due to the fact that they live underground in burrows that have been dug out by small mammals at some point in time;
  • Have brown spotted feathers, white brow lines, yellow eyes; 
  • One of the smallest breeds in North America 
  • Reproduction: Season- early spring; gestation- 28 days; burrowing owls can lay 3-12 eggs at a time. 
  • Unlike most types of owls, Burrowing Owls are very active during daylight hours

The Burrowing Owls eat moles and mice but only in the late spring and early summer – during the time they are feeding their offspring. The rest of the year they eat insects. After 45 days, the fledgling owls begin to leave the nest to for insects.