Marcophile: Our owls: good news and bad news
Article Date: 2005-05-04 Source: http://www.naplesnews.com
By Chris Curle
Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A. - There's good news and bad news about burrowing owls on
The good news: Owls are finding surprising locations to live.
One pair set up burrow-keeping at the base of a newly planted tree along busy Bald Eagle Drive. The owls seem to be oblivious to the traffic.
Also, Nancy Richie, the city's award-winning environmental specialist,
relates the following:
"The Conservancy of Southwest Florida called and said they had a female owl
that needed to be released ASAP. She was caught in the parking lot of a Naples
restaurant; the bird was not hurt, but was agitated and wanted out of rehab.
"The Conservancy asked whether she could be released on Marco. They described
the two bands on the owl, and I realized I knew this owl.
"She was banded last spring at a burrow located at Moon and Copperfield
(courts) on Marco. Divco is now building a house there. They legally collapsed
the burrow last fall, using a permit.
"It's curious why she flew all the way to Naples. So with her burrow gone, we
released her at a burrow on Bond Court. I'm happy to report the male there has
taken a liking to her and they are happily cohabitating in harmony."
Now, the bad news.
The owl population on Marco is down this year. We have only 96 locations so
far this season, compared with 133 by this time last year.
Curiously, most locations now have an accessory burrow. Richie says that
means the owls build a secondary burrow near their first one — a seasonal home,
maybe? No, they often move to the other hole in the ground for additional
safety. Observers say they've found sticks, bricks and even a plastic baseball
bat shoved down owl burrows.
"Maybe the owls feel under attack, and maybe they are," Richie says.
Animosity toward the burrowing owls is not new in some quarters here on
Marco. But regulations protect the little guys, and there are stiff penalties
for people proven to have harassed or hurt the birds or even destroyed their
nests without legal permits. Development, the real estate boom and explosive
growth have crowded the spaces that the owls use and humans desire.
Celebrated novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen fights for
the owls in his recent novel Hoot. Aimed at kids, the book is a tale of
three middle school students here in Florida who try to save a burrow of
Hoot has become part of a statewide school reading project and is part
of the Marco Island Charter Middle School program. It has been boosted by Gov.
Jeb Bush and by Jimmy Buffett.
In fact, Buffet is involved in a movie based on the book. Filming will begin
in South Florida in June.
Hiaasen was asked whether Hoot has its roots in the headlines.
"The burrowing owls that face destruction in Hoot are very much real,"
he said. "Their habitat is being wiped out by development, so the state finally
gave them the status of a protected species. Sadly, the bulldozers keep
Hiaasen told of a news story that emerged soon after he finished the book.
"Some owls had been deliberately killed ... the only things standing between
the developer and some land he wanted to build on. Mysteriously, the birds wound
up dead. It was creepy how much it resembled the plot of the book."
Maybe adults should read Hoot too.
Disclaimer: This article has been reproduced from http://www.naplesnews.com and placed here for comment.
OwlPages.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any information in this article, and does not necessarily agree with the author's opinions.
2008-05-25 - Burrowing owls make great neighbors by Leigh Tahirovic - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
2007-07-16 - Burrowing owls strive to survive drought, too busy to bear new crop by Jeremy Cox - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
2006-11-01 - 2 burrowing owls make themselves at home on Site C by Ed Bania - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
2006-08-16 - You can help homeless burrowing owls by Kara Kenney - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
2006-06-15 - Burrowing owls holding their own by Mike Reilly - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
2004-04-07 - 'Hooters' update Night life on Marco is lively by Chris Curle - Marco Island, Florida, U.S.A.
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