1 VIEW ALL HOUSES
The sandy, open lots in Cape Coral are often home to burrowing owl families. The small, brown, speckled owls live in a maze of underground burrows and tunnels in empty fields throughout the city. They can also be found along the road and many times make their home in the yards of Cape Coral residents.
The curious creatures grow to about 9 inches and have a 21-
The State of Florida and a federal bird act protect the owls from being disturbed
or harassed. If a nest of babies is discovered on a construction site, work will
halt until the babies are old enough to fly and feed themselves -
In the months of May -
When approached, burrowing owls will bob their heads and bodies to let you know they are unhappy. They will stay on their perch long enough for you to get a good look but if you get too close, they will quickly leave the area.
Cape Coral has the state's largest population of burrowing owls -
Questions & Answers
1. Are burrowing owls found only in Cape Coral?
No.The Florida burrowing owl is a subspecies of burrowing owl found throughout Florida.The western species is found from Canada to Mexico,as far east as Texas and Louisiana and as far west as California.in some states the
Burrowing owl is on the endangered species list.
2. What do burrowing owls eat? Should I feeds them and offer water?
Their main diet consists of insects, anoles (lizards) frogs and mice. They obtain
water from the food they eat. Please do not attempt to feed them.
3. The owls near my house are very protective. Will they attack me or my children?
If you get too close to the burrow, the owls will make a lot of noise, bob their heads and display their wings to dissuade you from getting any closer. The city has never received any reports of injury to humans or pets from owls.
4. When is nesting season?
Officially, from February 15th-
5. How long until the babies are on their own?
At approximately 42 days old, the owls are learning to fly and catch their own food.
Becoming completely independent is a process that does not happen all in one day. It is not uncommon for owls born in May to stay near the nest until August of the same year.
6. Do the owls use the same nest repeatedly?
Owls are site specific, which means they are likely to return to the same territory year after year to raise their young. If the burrow is damaged either by
humans or natural causes, becomes too overgrown, or if the owls are continuously harassed at their current location, they will often move to a nearby area to start a new nest.
7. Is it true you cannot build a house if your lot has an owl burrow on it?
You can build on your property even if there is an owl burrow on site. If the builder
can maintain a protective zone with a ten-
In fact, we encourage this practice.In the event that the burrow is not in a location that would allow your a permit from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to destroy the nest. The permit would be effective
after nesting season.
8. Can the owls be relocated?
Since owls are site specific, they return to the same nesting area year after year. The nest can only be destroyed if a permit from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has been issued. Owls can be attracted to starter burrows on already developed properties nearby.
9. The owls have vacated the burrow. Is it legal to fill it in?
No. It is important to remember that the owl burrow,the owls and their eggs are all protected from harassment and/or disturbance by state law. They are also protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
10. Is the owl on the Endangered Species List?
Florida's burrowing owls are listed as a species of special concern by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. There are three levels of protection: species of special concern, threatened and endangered.
Species of special concern are those facing a moderate risk of extinction in the
future. A threatened species is one facing a very high risk of extinction in the
future. Endangered species are in imminent danger of extinction due to man-
11. What should I do if I see someone bothering the owls, or trying to hurt them?
Any harassment of burrowing owls or malicious destruction of their nests should be
reported to Wildlife Alert. The number is toll-
(Or you can call the City of Cape Coral‘s Planning Division at 574-
12. What can I do to help the burrowing owls?
# Report harassment or destruction of the owls and their burrows to Wildlife Alert
# Restrict the use of pesticides. Owls eat the insects we consider pests and are therefore exposed to the insecticides we use around our homes.
Pesticides limit and contaminate the food sources available to the owls.
# Starter burrows. Attracting burrowing owls to our developed properties and integrating them into our community will help ensure their survival.
# Help keep staked out burrows in your neighborhood free of trash, weeds and overgrown grass.
# Owl burrows on vacant lot nest have to be cordoned off to prevent crushing of burrows
that lot mowers do not see. Report owl burrows in need of protection from construction
or lot mowers to the City of Cape Coral Planning Division at 574-
13.What should I do if I see a sick or injured owl?
Call the City of Cape Coral Planning Division at 574-
(Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) at 472-
The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is on a list of Threatened Species by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. This classification means the bald eagle could become endangered without proper protection or management. Protection of Cape Coral‘s bald eagles is important since Florida's nesting population constitutes over 80 percent of the entire bald eagle population within the southeastern United States.
Although smaller than northern eagles, the Southern Bald Eagle weighs 8-
Bald eagles are primarily fish eaters, preying occasionally on small mammals and carrion.Eagles have been seen feeding on roadside kill alongside vultures.
Bald eagle nesting season runs October 1st through May 15th of the following year.
Eagles mate for life and use the same site year after year, if the territory is available.
In Florida the eagles usually return in late September or early October. One to
three eggs are laid between Late November and early January. The young eaglets hatch
The young birds wander northwards as far as Canada and return by adulthood at 4 -
The main threat to bald eagles in Florida is loss of nesting habitat due to Development.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission
have established guidelines for protective zones around eagle nests with certain
restrictions imposed to ensure continued success of those sites. In Cape Coral,
eagles are also protected by city Ordinance 13-
Malicious destruction of bald eagle nest sites or harassment of eagles should be
reported to the City of Cape Coral, Planning Division at
If you see a sick or injured eagle, please report it to the Planning Division or
C.R.O.W. (Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife) at 472-
Our recommendation for wildlife sightings:
J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge
1 Wildlife Dr., Sanibel, FL 33957
Phone: (239) 472-
Closed Friday, Saturday -
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Road West, Naples, FL 34120
open for visitors every day of the year except during violent weather.
Hours: Oct. 1-
Directions: Take I-
2. Go approximately 15 miles and turn left onto Sanctuary Road (look a large brown sign on the right and another at the intersection on the left)
3. Sanctuary Road makes a 90 degree left bend -
Gopher Tortoise -
Imagine that you must protect yourself from the elements, and to do so, you have
to dig a tunnel in the ground that is as wide as your body,15 -
The Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) averages 9 -
Gopher tortoises are found throughout Florida and prefer sandy, well drained upland
areas.They eat grasses, bean family plants, fruits and grass-
The gopher tortoise's large, flattened forelimbs have special ligaments that stiffen,
making it easier for these incredible animals to dig large tunnels, some more than
30 feet long. These tunnels, called burrows, provide shelter from extreme heat or
cold, maintaining a temperature of 70 -
The tortoise's burrow and the excavated sand around the entrance are used by many
other invertebrate and vertebrate species to varying degrees. The loss of gopher
tortoise habitat means the loss of habitat for up to 300" commensal" (harmonious
In Cape Coral, there can be scattered enclaves of one to five tortoise burrows on
vacant lots, as well as a few areas containing ten to forty burrows. The gopher tortoise's
burrow can be recognized by it's half-
The burrows of young gopher tortoises or hatchlings are not so large. A year after
hatching, gopher Tortoises usually have a burrow 3 -
Gopher tortoises may live more than 40 years, but do not reach reproductive Maturity until 10 to 20 years of age. Mating occurs April to June, with females digging their nest cavity in the mouth of the burrow only once per year. The mean nest size is about six eggs. The incubation period varies from approximately 80 to 110 days.
The gopher tortoise was well established in Florida thousands of years before Human
existence. Human consumption and encroachment, resulting in loss and degradation
of habitat has contributed substantially to their population decline-
A lack of genetic diversity is also a problem for the remaining gopher tortoises. However, preserving small, viable populations may make a difference. This prevents the spread of disease, and prevents the loss of large populations due to catastrophic events. With some areas set aside for preservation, it is hoped that the City of Cape Coral can help sustain the gopher tortoise population.
The gopher tortoise is a fascinating and gentle creature whose importance in our
local ecosystem cannot be overstated. There are several places nearby that provide
easy access to gopher tortoise viewing. You can visit the Charlotte Harbor Environmental
Center on Burnt Store Road just north of Cape Coral or Sanibel-
If you find an injured gopher tortoise, you can contact the City of Cape Coral‘s
Planning Division at 574-