I get a lot of questions about the Burrowing Owls that I thought I would answer here. If you have a question,
send it off to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will do my best to answer your
How big are the owls?
Adult Burrowing Owls are about the size of an American Robin. They stand approximately 9-10 inches
high (25 cm) and weigh 6 ounces, about the size of a McDonalds Quarter Pounder.(170g) They have quite a large
wingspan at 21 inches (53 cm).
Can Burrowing Owls turn their heads completely around?
No! A Burrowing Owl can only turn their head 270° as shown in the blue area in the graphic below. The eyes
of the Burrowing Owls have become so specialized and large that they do not move in their sockets. The owl must
turn its head to view an object.
Do Burrowing Owls migrate?
The western species of the Burrowing Owl do migrate, but the owls here in Cape Coral do not. They are
quite happy staying here all year round. During the hot summers, they are known to hang out in the coolness
of the mangrove trees, but they are not very far from "home". Several years ago, biologist Tom Allen places
radio tracking devices on 50 of the Cape Coral Burrowing Owls to see just where they went. One managed to
find its way to Marco Island, a few went to Fort Myers, Fl and one traveled to the north section of Cape Coral. the
rest stayed near their burrows.
How many young to they have?
On average they have 4-5 chicks once a year. I have had as many as 7 on my property, and as few as
2. The western species tend to have a few more chicks than the Florida ones. Predation and
automobiles take a heavy toll on the chicks, and survival rates can be low.
Why haven't I ever heard of a Burrowing Owl before?
If you are from the Northeast, chances are you haven't heard of a Burrowing Owl. They are found west of the
Mississippi and in the lower portions of Georgia and Florida. There is even a population of them in
How can you tell the male from the female?
It is very difficult to tell them apart. Here in Florida, the males tend to be a little lighter in color
and the females darker in color. This is because the male spends more time outside the burrow searching for
food, while the female spends more time in the burrow. The Florida sun tends to bleach out the males
feathers, making them lighter in color. This is not a very reliable way to tell them apart unless they are
What do they eat?
Burrowing Owls love mice. It has been reported that a family of Burrowing Owls can eat up to 1500 mice per
year. They also like small snakes, frogs, roaches and other bugs and have been known to kill an
occasional bird. Unless you are willing to provide the owls with these menu items, please don't try to feed
I hear a Burrowing Owl will attack you.
If a Burrowing Owl is threatened, it will fly to the burrow for protection. Since the burrow is on the
ground, if you are between the owl and the burrow, the owl will appear to be swooping down on you. There has
never been a reported attack by a Burrowing Owl on a human in the City of Cape Coral. It is not to say they
get very testy if you get too close to the burrow. Especially if there are eggs or young present.
There is a Burrowing Owl sitting outside my front door and it has been there all day and not moved. Is it
During the daylight hours, Burrowing Owls are quite content to just sit by the burrow or in a cool shady
spot for hours on end. I have observed an owl on my lawn sitting in front of the burrow for 12 hours without
moving. Come night time and the owl took off to go hunting.
Do Burrowing Owls dig their own burrows?
Yes, here in Florida they do. Our soft sandy soil makes it easy for the owls to dig a burrow, which can be
up to 10 feet long and 1-3 feet deep. Once homeowners install our Florida "grass" on the lawn, the owls can
no longer dig a burrow. The grass we have here in Florida is very course and nearly impossible to dig through.
Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife teaches residents how to put "starter burrows" on their properties to encourage the
owls to nest. This involves digging a small section of grass out of the lawn to create a disturbed area which
may attract the owls. For more information on starter burrows, read the Starter
Burrows article on this website.
What's with all the crosses in Cape Coral????
When visitors first come to Cape Coral, they are puzzled by all the crosses on empty lots and even front
yards. We are often asked if they mark traffic fatalities. One woman even commented that
Cape Coralites must be terrible drivers. We have to laugh because these crosses mark the many Burrowing Owl
burrows that we have in town. Burrowing Owls like to be elevated so they can see predators coming. The
City started installing the "T" perches when they started marking the burrows to make them visible to
the large lot mowers that keep our weeds at bay. The owls seem to love them and can
often be seen perching on them.