Looking for unique gifts? Adopt a Burrowing Owl

If you’re not sure what to get your friends and loved ones this holiday season, how about adopting a burrowing owl for everyone on your list? No, you cannot buy owls as a pet. But with a donation of just $ 25 to the non-profit Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife (CCFW), you can help protect the lives of these little creatures by protecting their nesting grounds.

Cape Coral has the largest population of burrowing owls of any Florida community. The only species of birds that burrow underground, they began to appear in Cape Town after land use began.

“The city was built on the embankment of the digging of the canals, which turned out to be the perfect substrate for the owls,” says Cheryl Anderson, CCFW board member. “They weren’t there when it was just a Piney Woods peninsula.”

They are not migratory birds either. Once they burrow, they won’t move. They are little homebodies who like to stay close to home.

The CCFW was organized in 2001 at the instigation of Carol Kiefer, a resident of Cape Town. The number of its members has grown considerably since then, with a powerful effect. Anderson tells us that it was through “strong support and lobbying from CCFW” that the Burrowing Owl, Gopher Turtle and Bald Eagle Ordinances were passed by Cape Town City Council. The law protecting bald eagle nests is the strictest in the United States.

Members of the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust have purchased plots in Cape Coral to save the habitats of burrowing owls and gopher turtles.

Getting a new ordinance passed is a long and laborious legal process, Anderson reminds us. “It took two years to get the [existing] enhanced fertilizer ordinance.

Cape Coral is now home to more than 2,500 protected burrows. CCFW members volunteer approximately 10,000 hours a year, scouring the city for unprotected owl burrows and tending to those already under our protection. And yet, says Anderson, “With construction ramping up, we’re running as fast as we can, but we can’t cope with all of the disruption to wildlife habitat.” ”

Realizing they couldn’t keep up, the CCFW organized the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust in 2017 to buy properties inside the city and set them aside as wildlife sanctuaries.

A pair of Burrowing Owls are on the prowl from a perch.  Cape Coral is now home to more than 2,500 protected burrows.

“This area is reserved for wildlife,” says Anderson. “It’s not a park. It is the private property of any fauna that wants to live there.

“Since we bought these lots, the animals have come to them.

On a lot of no more than a quarter of an acre, where there were 45 turtle burrows, there are now 103.

“Word is out,” Anderson laughs. “Our goal now is to get more lots. “

So far, the CCFW Trust has spent over $ 300,000 to purchase more than 44 lots in Cape Coral. Donations of vacant land are gratefully accepted.

CCFW’s mission has evolved over the past 20 years to include the preservation of all of Cape Town’s wildlife, including manatees, various butterflies and birds, and many more. In support of its mission, the CCFW hosts Southwest Florida’s largest environmental festival every February. They call it the Burrowing Owl Festival after the CCFW poster.

Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife organizes its festival of Burrowing Owl every February.

These mighty little burrowing owls have some of the most expressive faces in the animal kingdom and more personality in their fluffy little beige and white feathered bodies than even bright, talkative macaws. In the group photos they actually seem to pose for the camera, hugging each other and tilting their little heads that way and in expressions of such disarming innocence, you’d swear they pretend.

If so, they are smart like little foxes.

How would you like a small family of Burrowing Owls to live on your property? Their presence is never bothersome, but entirely beneficial. For example, these adorable mini owls stay at home at night when the larger predators are hunting, moving in the daylight to do their own hunting, which involves hunting rodents and lizards, and scooping up insects in grass – vermin that we usually try to keep away. our property with expensive and dangerous pesticides.

Cheryl Anderson says, “After living in Cape Coral for 17 years, we finally have Burrowing Owls nesting on our street! I dug the starter burrow after watching our “how to dig a starter burrow” video on our website, and viola! Within a week the owls were there. We want to ask anyone who can establish a starter burrow in their front yard. It should be a status symbol for anyone to harbor these sweet birds in your yard. With all the new construction in Cape Coral, starting burrows may be the only way to keep burrowing owls in our town.

Call CCFW at 239-980-2593 to find out how to start one of your own.

CCFW's mission has evolved over the past 20 years to include the preservation of all of Cape Town's wildlife, including manatees, various butterflies and birds, and many more.

You can also donate by adopting an owl as a holiday gift for a little owl family. Mothers begin their nesting season in February and will need a safe home to give birth. The CCFW offers a range of adoption packages at different donation levels: Advocate ($ 25), Advocate ($ 50), Ambassador ($ 100), Champion ($ 500) and Benefactor ($ 10,000).

To donate or learn more about CCFW, visit ccfriendsofwildlife.org/adopt-a-cape-coral-burrowing-owl/.

Donation forms can be downloaded from ccfriendsofwildlife.org. or checks mailed to Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, PO Box 152761, Cape Coral, FL 33915. To donate over $ 500, please call 239-980-2593.


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