Friday, June 8, 2012
Burrowing owls upgrade their own digs
Two owls have in essence upgraded their abode by relocating their burrow in a Cottonwood Court swale to a new-home construction site just yards away.
Their new place is at the southwest corner of the site.
The birds have also essentially halted building at the site, but with the full blessing of the construction company, Sunset Builders.
“I moved here 21 years ago because I wanted to live in an island paradise, so how can blame these guys for wanting to do the same,” said an amused Keith Leonia, Sunset Builders president.
He said his company has been given a permit by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to work at the site, provided they don’t disturb the burrow, but he decided to take it a step further.
“We instead have chosen to wait out the nesting period and let the young birds hatch and learn how to fly without our presence on the construction site,” Leonia said. “We are told that this usually takes about six weeks. We monitor the site along with the city, and when we are both satisfied that the young birds can fly on their own we will take the required steps to relocate the owls.
‘We have done this a few times during our 18 years of building on Marco and don’t mind waiting for the little guys to get their wings under them.”
In the temporary absence of city environmental specialist Nancy Richie, code compliance supervisor Liz Carr confirmed the need from the FWC of a permit, and also confirmed that once fledglings have flown, it is permissible to cave in the burrow to encourage the parent owls to relocate.
Nearby resident and photographer Joann Nadler has been fascinated by the mini-saga ever since she saw the two owls around their old, grassy burrow.
“When they saw the fresh sand (at the construction site), they decided they wanted to move,” Nadler said. “They did so right after they (Sunset Builders) put in some pilings about three weeks ago.”
Nadler said she was impressed by the birds’ resolute digging.
“They just kept shoveling dirt out,” she said. “Actually, it was more scooping. It was so cool to watch them do it.” I was just a big worried that the new burrow would collapse.”
Nadler said the female hardly ever showed herself, so she was delighted to be able to get a couple of shots when the bird did emerge mid-week last week.