The burrowing owl is protected by the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act and as a State Species of Special Concern by Florida’s Endangered & Threatened Species Rule. They are “highly vulnerable” to becoming a threatened species by loss of habitat and thus in Florida, it’s illegal to harass or harm them, their nests, or their eggs. I’ve been told that over the past few years, the public, including some photographers, reportedly have taken perhaps a bit too much liberty with them, which resulted in these signs being displayed at most of the burrows, which happen to be in heavily used county parks. While I applaud the attempt to educate those who might not know better, I think that these signs (which are quite small) might actually encourage people to get close … in order to read these tiny notices. In addition, they tend to flap around in the wind, which also disturbs the owls. Is it just me or what?So that being said … let’s all enjoy them from afar and know that when an owl bobs its head up and down at you or lets out an alert call when you’re present, you’re obviously disturbing them and need to give them their space. Again, whether observing or photographing the owls, the goal should be to get them acting naturally. Enough said. 🙂
Speaking of acting naturally, please note that this owl hasn’t been fed by humans, but rather has retrieved its prey from its hunting (usually at night or before dawn or after dusk) earlier. They kill and cache it, like other predators do, and as you can see, this frog is covered in sand.This owl is quite the hunter too. It tries to offer the frog to its mate, who shows no sign of interest in taking it.So the owl begins to consume it himself.Once partially torn into and consumed, the owl tries again to offer it to its mate, but again she’s not interested.What’s an owl to do?Is she just playing hard to get?Well, let’s try a lizard … maybe that will do it. But no, she didn’t want that either!Eventually, after several visits to the burrow, this years baby owls start to appear. Usually when I first see them, they still are in that “hair plug” stage, but these guys seem to be a few weeks out of that stage.Even at a young age, they learn to watch the skies overhead.At first, I just saw one young owl, which made me flash back to that hawk Tom & I had seen a few weeks ago. But then a second appeared.There’s always one that’s more curious and brave than the other. LOLEventually, they both begin to feel comfortable with my presence and the animation begins. 🙂I just adore the young owlets and their fluffy belly feathers and those downy looking “petticoats” are priceless.The sun highlights their eyes, which are so big and focused on their surroundings. At one point, 3 owlets appeared, which makes it more fun due to the interaction between them. This owlet decided to strike a submissive pose when playing with the others. So darned cute!More overhead scanning … a never-ending activity … for those owls and owlets that want to increase their odds of survival.More playing … a favorite part of their day I’m sure … as well as for the observers.Well, go to go today, but not before I say goodbye to these 3 cuties. As you can tell, they all have their personalities, appearances, and unique traits. However, they are all precious. I wish them well. As Arnold says … “I’ll be back”.
Next up: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge
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