Burrowing owls: The city of Cape Coral’s official bird
Cape Coral is home to unique species of owl that the city has made its own: the burrowing owl.
Burrowing owls are the only species, of 171 owls, that live underground, making them more susceptible to predators and enhancing the risk of having their burrows destroyed.
The owls dig these burrows for protection and, of course, nesting.
Burrows can be spotted in usually dry areas, circular in shape, usually 3-6 inches in width, with debris decorating the entrance during breeding season (February-July).
Burrowing owls may use abandoned gopher tortoise or armadillo burrows, as well as man-made structures.
Other than vacant lots, you may see burrowing owls in dry prairies, pastures, agricultural fields, airports, parks and golf courses.
The Florida burrowing owl is no stranger to Cape residents, with more than 2,500 burrows scattered around the city they call home.
Cape Coral is home to the largest known population of the Florida burrowing owl, which is a threatened species. These pint-sized birds burrow underground where they nest from early February through mid-July.
In November 2016, these small birds were given the status of threatened by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. Their eggs, their young and active nests are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Thousands of residents from across Southwest Florida attend the Burrowing Owl Festival each year to enjoy nature-themed activities such as bus tours to observe the burrowing owl habitats, interactive butterfly exhibit, nature hikes at Rotary Park, guest speakers and more.
Cape Coral even has a play on Groundhogs Day – Burrowing Owl Day, where “Owliver” and “Owlivia” come out of their burrow to see their shadow, signifying six more weeks of “winer” in sunny Southwest Florida.
A local brewery even named a brew after the city’s official bird-a Kentucky Common Burrowing Owl Beer.