Friday, January 5, 2018

Florida Owl Experience

In between the Canadian cold and the winter storm, Connie and I drove to Florida for Christmas with my mother and her sister. The week was filled with cooking, eating, drinking and visiting. I brought my binoculars and camera but didn't expect to use them. Fortunately, Connie's sister lives in Cape Coral which has many vacant lots where houses hadn't been built for humans. Burrowing Owls love the lots. We found a corner lot with 7 burrows. Someone makes little wooden perches for them and puts stakes out to advise people that there are owls living there.

I went out late in the afternoon to try to photograph the owls. I drove to the corner lot and saw an owl sitting out next to the burrow. I quietly rolled the window down and turned off the engine. I snapped a few photos. The owl just sat there.


I pulled closer and snapped. The owl sat there. I opened the car door and hid behind it snapping photos. The owl sat there.


Then, the little kids on the block started riding their brand new bicycles with training wheels down the street. The owl just sat there. Another kid skateboarded right past the owl. The owl just sat there. Boy did I feel dumb. I got out of the car and walked to the curb. The owl just sat there.

The owl was so un-phased by human activity that he even took time to preen.


And then, something happened. I stepped on what I think was a storm drain on the curb and next thing I know, another owl jumps out of his burrow (he hadn't been out before this) and starts flying around the intersection hooting and then landed on one of the perches. I snapped this photo of him as he landed.


"My" owl hooted back a few times but still just sat there. And just like that, the mad owl vanished back into his burrow. I'm not quite sure what happened. Did I scare the owl? The only thing I can think of is that when I stepped on the storm drain, it echoed into the burrow and scared him. Or, something else made him take flight. I really don't know but I think it is weird that cars, joggers, skateboards and bicycles are ignored. Urban owls.
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