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Learn About the Burrowing Owls on Marco Island

Many guests to our Marco Island vacation rentals are attracted to the island because of its incredible wildlife. There are tons of awesome nature sites to explore, and the animals of the island are simply fascinating.

One of the island’s most unique and intriguing creatures are the burrowing owls.

Be sure to learn more about them before you head to Marco Island, and perhaps if you’re lucky, you’ll spot some for yourself! 

burrowing owl marco island

History 

Burrowing owls have been on Marco Island for a while now, and the first attempt to monitor the creatures began back in 2001. From then until now, a group called the Owl Prowl and its volunteers have helped to keep a careful eye on the owls to protect them and help their population increase. Even though urban development is a constant on Marco Island, the owls now have a population of over 400! 

In 2016, this vital project was taken over by Audubon of the Western Everglades (AWE). They now call the program the AWE Owl Watch Program and continue their efforts to protect the incredible burrowing owl species. 

Facts

The scientific name for the burrowing owls on Marco Island is Athene cunicularia floridana. Burrowing owls are native to Florida and are the only owl species that nest underground. They stand about nine inches tall in adulthood, which is about the size of a water bottle. 

burrowing owls

These special owls burrow down in open spaces and vacant lots throughout the island, and these burrows cannot be removed unless a special permit is obtained. Once an owl settles into a burrow, they’ll return to that same burrow year after year. Burrows can be as large as three feet deep and 5-12 feet long! The owls live on the island all year long and breed from February through July. Once a burrowing owl finds a partner, they mate for life! 

Burrowing owls might seem like a disturbance to the urban population, but it’s actually quite the opposite. These birds are helpful because they can eat rodents and amphibians, as well as insects like mole crickets and roaches. They hunt during the night and the day, which is a major difference from other owl species that are strictly nocturnal. 

Plan Your Next Vacation

While you’re enjoying your time on Marco Island, you’ll need a place to stay! Once bird watching is done for the day, head back to one of our Marco Island condo rentals to relax and unwind. Contact us today to learn more! 

Rules and Conservation

In order to keep the owls safe and still enjoy bird watching on Marco Island, there are a few rules you’ll need to follow. If you see an owl out in the wild, you’ll want to observe it from afar. Respect private property and never trespass to get a better view. You also don’t want to lean over or into any posted areas to get a good picture.

If you spot an owl that’s not in a private area, move slowly and quietly while you’re around it. You’ll want to sit or stay low when you can, and don’t surround the burrow, especially if you’re in a group. Back off if an owl appears scared or agitated, and don’t feed the Marco Island owls.

Want more information about how you can help the owls? You can contact the Owl Watch Program by email at owlwatchmarco@gmail.com. You can also visit the Audubon website at www.audubonwe.org. Even if you’re not a local, you can still help with the conservation efforts to keep these incredible birds safe and happy.