The Burrowing Owls of Brian Piccolo Park

May 05, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

I love owls, especially burrowing owls.   Their expressions with those big yellow eyes are captivating.   I had a chance to visit Brian Piccolo Park this week.  Fortunately, the rains that have been plaguing South Florida for nearly a week finally  held back for a little while, and for the first time in days, the sun was out.

Relaxed, but watching.
Brian Piccolo Park – Cooper City, FL
May 24, 2012

Estimates put the Florida Burrowing Owl population at around 3,000 birds.   There are two distinct populations of the burrowing owl, one nesting in southwest Canada and the western United States, the other in Florida.

“I’m just waiting for him to come over here”.
Brian Piccolo Park – Cooper City, FL
May 24, 2012

The Burrowing Owl can be seen year-round, day or night, in central and South Florida. They prefer open prairie, but are also found in agricultural, recreational and residential areas.  Besides Brain Piccolo Park, these little guys can be found in many other areas around South Florida. Usually where there are large areas of open, undisturbed land. Local regional airports are a prime spot to locate them. Their nests are usually marked off for their protection by four poles, and yellow rope or tape.

Each burrow is occupied by a male owl and a female owl. The species, whose average height is 9 inches, begin nesting in mid-February.   By spring, the owlets begin to emerge from their homes.

Pappa, Momma, and Baby.
Brian Piccolo Park – Cooper City, FL
May 24, 2012

Burrowing Owls are the only North American owl that nests underground.  Often spotted standing outside its burrow in daylight, the burrowing owl is the only small owl frequently seen in the open during the day.  It usually hunts at night, preying on small rodents, birds, frogs, reptiles and insects.  Before laying eggs, the owl decorates its burrow with animal dung, cigarette butts, bits of paper and shredded cloth.  It is presumed that they do this to disguise their scent from predators.  Once the nesting smells sufficiently bad, the female lays 6-11 eggs.  The incubation period is around 28, where both parents share in the responsibility.

“I’m ready to take on the world”.
Brian Piccolo Park – Cooper City, FL
May 24, 2012

I caught a few more before the rains decided to come back.  It was nearly sunset, but I came away with some great captures.  Next up will be some HD video of these little guys.

More images of these beautiful little creatures can be found in my Brian Piccolo Park galleries here.

 


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