Look into my eyes...
Probably the highlight of my bird trip was a visit to Cape Coral Florida to see the Burrowing Owls. Per the Florida Fish and Wildlife web site “The burrowing owl is a pint-sized bird that lives in open, treeless areas. The burrowing owl spends most of its time on the ground, where its sandy brown plumage provides camouflage from potential predators. One of Florida's smallest owls, it averages nine inches in height with a wingspan of 21 inches. The burrowing owl lacks the ear tufts of the more familiar woodland owls. Bright yellow eyes and a white chin accent the face. Unusually long legs provide additional height for a better view from its typical ground-level perch.”
As we drive around Cape Coral I am surprised to see us go to a housing and residential area near the library. There are many vacant building lots in the area where the owls have found a new habitat for homes. I guess they heard about the housing bust and figured the low rates made a perfect time to buy in the area. Most of the nests are marked off with stakes and tape and there is usually a cross-shaped perch or stick posted near the nest. It protects the nest from lawn mowers and allows the owls a perch from which to guard against predators. The owls dig deep holes into the sandy soil or take advantage of existing homes of tortoises or armadillos. We see several families and one had six fledglings in it. The owls are used to close human proximity and allow you to get very close to the nests. If they are agitated they let you know by a hiss or head bob movement. One nest was in a local residents home in the front yard by the sidewalk. She became more agitated than the owls and let us know by her scary stare (and ugly house robe) that it was time to move on so we quickly left to respect their wishes. We go to the “library” area where several large open lots are home to about a dozen or more owl families. It is not uncommon to find several nests in close proximity. It is warm and sunny when we started in the early afternoon but the clouds began to build up and skies darkened a bit by the time we left. We still were able to have some excellent lighting conditions and I got some treasured photos. I won’t soon forget peering into the burrows and seeing those large yellow eyes staring up at me. I hope you enjoy these first photos I have of these marvelous little owls. Each one appeared to have a unique personality all their own. Just like us taller humans do.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The eyes indicate the antiquity of the soul.” I saw a few old souls that day I believe. A traditional proverb says “The eyes are the windows of the soul”. You can put on a smile on your face but your eyes can tell a completely different story. Look into the eyes of these little creatures and tell me what you see…Be Blessed..Harry