Friday, July 21, 2006

Out of the Burrow

I have seen many Burrowing Owls in the past. However, they were all in either zoos or being rehabed at sanctuaries. Nothing I could ever include on a Life List of any note.

In the Spring of 2006 there started to be a lot of postings about sightings of the wild owls in various locations in the state. All of them to the south. Far to the south. A day trip to south side of Lake Ockeechobee is almost always out of the question for me at any time.

I grew unhappily used to the fact that the owls would remain off the List for the near future. Then I got an email on Friday afternoon.

Seems there was a group of Burrowing Owls living in a rural area (won't be for long by the looks of it) located just a bit north of Orlando. A trip of an hour is much more doable on almost any day. I picked an opportune evening and headed out.

Following the brief but perfect directions, I arrived at the site not long before sundown. Being new to the area I thought it might take a little extra time tracking the owls down. Would they even be out at this time of the day?

I didn't have to look too hard. As I neared the zone where they were said to be, owl Number One hopped up onto a fence next to the road.

Burrowing Owl

Soon, I found more and more of them. Several adults were keeping watch over the area, chasing off other birds and the resident Rottweiler running after rabbits in the fenced in yard. Behind another fence, owl chicks scurried around through the low weeds. This particular bird seemed to be in charge of lookouts. He let me get to within 15 feet for a series of images.

Burrowing Owl

Even now and then, depending on the wind blowing in from a developing thunderstorm, several owls would man the fence surrounding the chicks. This was my favorite shot of them taken just before I had to escape the rain.

Burrowing Owl

Glad to know we have owls a little more in reach, although this group has probably moved on since the babies have grown. Even better to know that friends are around to spread the joy!

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