Here's why we give a hoot...
At about nine inches in height, the burrowing owl is one of the smallest owls in Florida. A burrowing owl has distinct yellow eyes, a white chin, and unusually long legs, which allows them to peer over the landscape. Burrowing owls are also different from other owls because they are active during the day. Referred to as "Florida’s natural pesticide," burrowing owls eat grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects like cockroaches and mole crickets. They will also eat small lizards, snakes, frogs, and mice. Learn more from The Cornell Lab Burrowing Owl Guide.
As a "threatened" species, Florida Burrowing Owls are protected by state and federal laws. They face many dangers - but one of the biggest is the loss of habitat. Unfortunately, there's a shortage of open land.
Recently we've had owls make homes on City recreation fields requiring us to close them. We wanted to find a way to help the owls and keep our fields in use, so we partnered with Project Perch - a South Florida Audubon Society program.
Since 2019, Sunrise and Project Perch have teamed up to install signs and barriers around burrows, train City staff to maintain the burrowing owl habitats, and develop educational initiatives. The City is also working with Project Perch to provide artificial burrows in parks that have recreation fields. These artificial burrows are cheap to create, can be installed by volunteers, and provide a "home upgrade" that hopefully will entice the owls to move from and stay off our sport fields.
Although it is wonderful to view these fascinating birds up close, it is important – and against the law – to harass them. Do not feed wildlife, always keep a safe distance (for you and for the well-being of the owls) and do not disturb the burrows. If the owls look at you and make noise, bob their heads, move or fly around you are too close.
A Protected Species
Taking, possessing, or selling burrowing owls, their nests (i.e., burrows), or eggs is prohibited without a permit (68A-27 F.A.C.). Burrowing owls, eggs, and young are also protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Read more about Conservation and Management.
Report destruction or harassment of burrowing owls or their nests to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission toll free at 1-888-404-FWCC.
- Color the Sunrise Earth Day Coloring Sheet
- Read Buffy the Burrowing Owl
- Watch Hoot
- Plant Florida Natives
- Reduce Pesticide Use
- View owls with care – always stay at least 20 feet away
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