Remember in March I went on a quest to find Burrowing Owls in Florida and majorly dipped out – albeit not miserably? As I was in Florida again for 2 weeks this month, I was determined to try again, so I went with my brother and my sister in law to Brian Piccolo Park in Cooper City, where (rumour has it) the birds are visible from the car park! (In March I’d gone to Bluefield Ranch Preserve and found a burrow, but no owls were around – probably as it was insufferably hot!) We drove into Brian Piccolo, paid our entrance fee (There is a $1.50 entry fee per person on weekends and holidays.) and before we even parked the car, we could see several areas where yellow tape had been set up marking off exclusion areas around the birds’ nests.
We’d been out of the car for less than 30 seconds when Gaz saw an owl’s head poking above the grass. The owl sat peacefully letting me take photos for around 20 minutes, entirely unperturbed by our presence!
Burrowing Owls are an enigmatic species, and are doing quite badly in some areas due to habitat loss. Interestingly, lots of aspects of Burrowing Owl lifestyle are different for the resident Florida population: They don’t migrate like their counterparts in the western states; they can have two (albeit smaller) broods of young in a year; they eat amphibians and reptiles, including snakes; they dig their own burrows (unlike other populations which use existing burrows excavated by other animals).
I can’t even tell you how pleased I was to tick off another bird on my Florida list, and also to get a bit of closure for my inner twitcher! Like last time, I had a few species in my sights for this trip – the second bird was one that I dipped out on – I went to try to find hummingbirds at Leu gardens in Orlando (stay tuned for upcoming blog post on the butterflies I saw while I was there!) but in spite of finding the right flowers/bushes, no hummingbirds! Can’t complain though, as look at the extra bonus birding awesomeness I saw! I took these photos of sandhill cranes from the passenger seat of the car!
Anyway, I’m off to Charlene’s place with Leigh to record our next Darwin’s Dolls podcast, which will have more details on this and other wildlife I saw on my trip!