One of my favorite times of the year in south Florida was always the spring for numerous reasons. One of the main reasons though is the activity of the burrows. I begin to check the landscape for locating burrows for some of south Florida’s famous residents … the burrowing owls. Of course, I anxiously await the arrival of the the year’s newest batch of adorable owlets, but in the meanwhile there’s always lots of feeding going on, since the owl moms spend lots of time in the burrows at this time, taking care of the eggs or newly hatched babies. That means “special delivery” of food by the male parent. Dining options vary from mice, rats, frogs, lizards, caterpillars, beetles, worms, and even baby birds. These burrowing owls possess powerful feet, sharp claws, and piercing beaks that all prove useful in securing and devouring their prey.After some time, the days of “on patrol” visiting prove worth it, as we get our first glimpse of one of the newborn owlets. Actually, at this point the owlets are about 10-14 days old when they first emerge out of the burrow. As much of a thrill it is for me to see them, can you imagine how amazed they are when they get their first glimpse of their new world outside the confines of the burrow? The word bewildered comes to mind when I observe their expressions.Whenever one of the owlets are near the entrance to the burrow, the parents are on patrol and ready to send out an alarm when needed in order to insure their safety.They remain on duty no matter the weather … sunshine or rain … and they stay vigilent.As fascinating as the owls are in general, I find them most interesting when they’re wet … the textures of their feathers are so interesting to me. One of the most intriguing things I find with these owls, as with all species of owls, are their eyes. Whether yellow, brown, or believe it or not even a mix of the two (yes, I have seen that!), their eyes captivate me and I find it hard to disengage my stare.Of course, there’s more feeding going on all of the time. This year, one particular burrow male was quite the productive hunter. During dusk and dawn, as well as the darkness of the night, this little guy was relentless in his stalking of its prey. Most times, he would cache his food for the next day and methodically retrieve it as needed.Little bugs go down easy, but sometimes dinner is more of a challenge to get down the hatch. I suppose he knows nothing about the whereabouts of that frog. Nothing like a “frog leg mustache”. LOLOnce he would get his fill, he would then march on over to his mate, in the burrow. Sometimes, she would meet him at the entrance and grab the delicacy and return to the burrow … other times he would descend into the burrow with it … and even other times they would dine together above ground.In the spring, rain showers are often present in the afternoons, and I would get lots of rained upon owls (to my delight … though I don’t think this owl was too pleased).Often they would shake off the excess water from their feathers which was always fun to photograph them get all fluffed up.They would then try to dry off their feathers as well by grooming … showing off their ability to twist their neck into many directions and angles.The loving burrowing owls often exhibit their love via mutual grooming and what I can only describe as “canoodling”.Eventually 2 very young owlets emerged … both in their “hair plug” stage … so very curious about EVERYTHING in their new world and soaking it all up.When there are owlets, there must be food provided to them … this time some grubs for the young ….…. while the parents would share an unfortunate frog.Of course, the affection was also shared with the baby owls as well. That being said, this little owlet couldn’t take his eyes off the lens of the camera. LOLWell, that is until it was being offered some food. It’s amazing how they get around on their wobbly legs. Such a thrill to witness them growing up before your eyes.Like I said … there was never a shortage of food this year. This owl had a worm longer than he was!
The relationship between the adults and their babies are close knit, loving, and patient, and the young owlets love nothing more than to be in the shadow of one of their parents, knowing full well they would be protected from harm.I spent a lot of time with the burrowing owls in 2017, so be prepared for lots of images shared. I mean, how could I not with adorable looks like this one? Come on now … doesn’t it look like it’s smiling? ❤Next up: Let’s not forget about Colorado 🙂
© 2017 Debbie Tubridy