Cape Coral is indeed fortunate to have the largest population of the Florida burrowing owl of any place in the world. Their burrows are unique in that they are easily accessible via City streets. Although it is wonderful to view these fascinating birds up close, we need to resist the temptation of loving them to death.
To help protect this species of special concern, state and federal laws prohibit the harassment of burrowing owls. This includes throwing rocks at them, trying to catch them, offering food items of any kind, or getting so close that their normal behavior is compromised in any way, especially during nesting season. Nesting season officially runs from February 15th through July 10th.
What many people do not realize, especially since Cape Coral’s burrowing owls are so prevalent in established neighborhoods, is that your mere presence can adversely affect the well being of the owls. Although the owls may appear content, or tolerant of your presence, if you are too close they may be afraid to leave the nest area to hunt for food for their young. If the owls start bobbing their heads, you are already too close. Bobbing their heads is not a way of saying hello, they are getting nervous and want you to back away.
When viewing burrowing owls and taking pictures, you do not stay in the area around them for extended periods of time, and maintain a minimum distance of 33 feet. Please consider that other people also come from all over the world to view and photograph our burrowing owls. The cumulative effect of too many people, too close, for too long, could be devastating to the young.
Consideration of their needs and well being will help us to ensure that there are burrowing owls for many generations to come. Informational brochures are available at City Hall, the Cape Coral Historical Museum, local veterinary offices, and the Cape Coral Library. For more information please visit the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife website at www.ccfriendsofwildlife.org.
Finally, please be considerate of residents’ property rights and right to privacy when viewing burrowing owls in Cape Coral. Do not park in residents’ yards or driveways or block traffic flow in City streets.