Burrowing Owls and the Rain

By virtue of its location, Florida is subjected to many storms and hurricanes, but thanks to the Weather Channel, we have fair warning of  approaching tropical storms or hurricanes.

When the weather is predicted to turn bad, I am often contacted by concerned people worried about the Burrowing Owls.  They are concerned that the burrows will flood and drown the owls, especially the babies.

My unscientific answer to this question has been “Don’t worry!”

Nature provides for its wildlife and in the case of the Burrowing Owl, nesting season runs from mid-February through July.  Most of the juvenile owls are born in April and fledge (begin flying) by May.  Hurricane season runs from June 1st through the 30th of November.  So by the time hurricane season rolls around, the baby owls are flying and can get out of harm’s way.

Throughout ancient history, Florida was underwater at least four times.  The “soil” is composed mostly of sand which is very porous.  When it rains the water is absorbed very quickly (unless there has be prolonged periods of heavy rain) and flooding dissipates rather quickly.  Thus, flooded burrows quickly drain off and the owls can return.

Quite a few years ago Florida was hit with a string of hurricanes.  During one hurricane which was prediced to skirt the Cape Coral area, we stayed home.  The Burrowing Owls that were living on our front lawn at the time, were out in the middle of the 35 mph plus winds, on the perch, taking a bath.  The wind and rain were no deterrent to them enjoying the not so sunny afternoon.

All said and done, a freak spring storm can drown the chicks, but unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done. As our climate changes, we are having more and more rain during our traditionally dry season.  Let nature take its course and hope for the best, as there is nothing we can do to help the owls directly.

To see a video of the Burrowing Owls in the Rain, click [HERE].