Cape Coral’s official city bird
Meet the Beloved Burrowing Owl
If you haven’t ever seen a burrowing owl out in nature, you’ll go wild in the Fort Myers area! They’re the smallest owl species — weighing only a few ounces and standing under a foot tall — and they’re the only owl that lives underground. While these creatures tend to dig their own burrows in Florida, they also use existing holes or even man-made burrows. It’s believed that Cape Coral has over 3,500 burrows, although not all are inhabited.
Nesting season begins in February and runs through mid-July. The male stands guard over the burrow to watch over the female who stays deep inside protecting their eggs or newborn chicks (They also mate for life!). They tend to eat primarily insects and small mammals like mice. When you catch sight of a bright-eyed owl standing nearby, you’ll be charmed by their quirky head bobs and twists. In fact, cowboys often called them “howdy birds” because they seemed to be saying hello from the entrance of their burrow.
Burrowing owls can be found throughout Florida, but they developed a particular affinity for Cape Coral in the 1950s, drawn by the open, flat land. The owls are so deeply associated with the area that the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife established its own spin on Groundhog Day: Ground Owl Day takes place every February at the Pelican Baseball Complex, where several burrows are located.
If you’re looking for more ways to celebrate this beloved bird, the 21st annual Burrowing Owl Festival will take place on February 25, 2023. Learn insights from expert biologists and go on guided tours to snap photos of these critters during the beginning of nesting season. This family-friendly event also includes music, crafts and food to make it a whole day of fun for everyone. Want to be even more involved? You can adopt a burrowing owl to ensure it stays protected!