Having Burrowing Owls on your property can be a lot of fun. They are very funny to watch and will provide you with hours of entertainment. It is also a way to preserve their habitat. As more and more homes are being built, there is less habitat for these little birds.
The following directions are suitable for installing a starter burrow on your Cape Coral property. Depending on the location, it is possible to attract the Burrowing Owls to other locations in Florida such as Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Marco Island and Fort Lauderdale area, where Owls are known to live currently.
The first step is to find a suitable location. Since hawks are the owls primary predator, an open sky is essential. A property with lots of trees and vegetation is not a suitable location. Most of the burrows we see in Cape Coral, are found towards the front of the properties and are often located near a light source such as a street light. (We have had a report of an owl learning how to turn on a motion sensor light in order to attract bugs.) The photo to the left shows a suitable front lawn.
Many properties in Cape Coral have a swale running parallel to the road. This “ditch” is used to drain off water during the heavy summer rains. Locate the burrow away from the swale and dig the entrance in a direction away from the swale to prevent flooding of the burrow.
Removing the grass
If you have the typical Florida grass (St. Augustine or Floratam), you need to clear a circle of grass about 2 feet in diameter in the location you want to install the burrow. A shovel is often needed to cut through this tough grass. See photos above. This grass is impossible for the owls to dig through, so you must do it for them.
If your property is sandy and has none of this grass, you can obviously eliminate this step.
After clearing the grass, take a small garden shovel and dig a 5-6 inch diameter hole at a 45 degree angle as far as you can. DO NOT USE THE LARGE SHOVEL TO DIG THE BURROW. USE A GARDEN SHOVEL. The dirt that you are removing should be placed in front of the burrow. This mound of dirt serves as a lookout post for the owls.
Finally, install a perch on the opposite side of the opening about a foot away from the burrow as noted in the photo below. Do not install the perch in front of the opening. The bottom piece of the perch can be wolmanized lumber to keep it from rotting in the ground but the perch where the owl will be standing should be regular wood to prevent the owl from coming in contact with the chemicals in the wolmanized wood. PVC could be used, but again this is very toxic and would have to be sanded to provide a rough surface. Running a length of hemp or manila rope around a PVC pipe works.
Installing a burrow can be done any time, but having the burrow in place and established when nesting season begins (mid February) has the most success. We have had people install a burrow at the end of February and also have had success.
That’s all there is to it. While I can’t guarantee you will attract an owl, the chances of it happening are great. Good luck!
If you have any difficulties or questions about finding a suitable location for the starter burrow,
call Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife at 239-980 2593