Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Florida Town Will Pay Residents to Help Burrowing Owls Find a Home

Animals
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.


The city council's resolution earmarks $5,000 a year to create a home for the struggling birds. That doesn't mean that residents can just take a shovel and dig out a piece of their yard. The starter burrow has to be created by wildlife crews from the Audubon of the Western Everglades, according to the City Council.

The Audubon of the Western Everglades has to build the burrow since they understand best what appeals to the finicky birds. The burrows cannot be too close to a tree nor to a house, nor can they nick a pipe accidentally, as CNN reported.

Alli Smith, a biologist with Audubon of the Western Everglades, a conservation group said that there are about 500 burrowing owls that live on Marco Island, but they are increasingly rare in the rest of the state, as CNN reported. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission designated the burrowing owl as "state-threatened" in 2017.

"Marco Island is the first in the state to enact a program designed to expand the habitat of a threatened species (while) rewarding citizens who wish to participate voluntarily," said Jared Grifoni, Marco Island's City Council vice-chair, in an email to the Marco Eagle. "We will be an example of positive and cooperative action to the entire state."

Griffoni added that he expects the program to start next week. "The goal was to have everything in place by the start of nesting season," Grifoni wrote to the Marco Eagle. Nesting season for the burrowing owl starts in February and ends in July.

Alli Smith told CNN that the small owls usually live in the grasslands of central Florida that have disappeared thanks to development and commercial farming. Consequently, the owls have moved to more urban spaces, like the empty lots in Marco Island.

Marco Island and Cape Coral, about 45 miles north of Marco Island, host the two largest burrowing owl populations. The burrowing owl is the official bird of Cape Coral.

Last week, activists and residents demonstrated against a new development called Sands Park on Pine Island, off the coast of Cape Coral, which they claim will threaten the burrowing the owls there.

"We're here to save this park from being developed in a way that will affect wildlife. We have four active nests and some other ones we want to save, and they put a jogging path there that will collapse those burrows," said activist Carl Veaux, as the Pine Island Eagle reported. "We've talked to the city council on this and will talk with them again."

"This is a time when starter burrows should be in full force in parks and government entities, in our front yards and in our schools," said Pascha Donaldson, vice president of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, as the Pine Island Eagle reported. "We shouldn't be collapsing burrows. Our builders do enough of that."

"We need to learn to live in harmony with our wildlife friends, not to destroy them," Donaldson said.

In Marco Island, nearly 95 percent of the burrowing owls live in vacant lots. Owners who want to build on the empty lots are able to remove the burrows after obtaining a permit, ruining some of the few burrows that are left in Florida, as CNN reported.

"We're just trying to give them some extra places to live," said Smith to CNN.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Earth's atmosphere. NASA

By Jeremy Deaton

You may have heard about the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers over Antarctica. It has shrunk over time thanks to policies that curbed the use of ozone-depleting chemicals. In the nearly 40 years that NASA has kept track, it has never been smaller. That's the good news.

Read More Show Less
Garden interns learn plant and weed identification at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Cheyenne River Youth Project / Facebook

By Stephanie Woodard

Many Americans are now experiencing an erratic food supply for the first time. Among COVID-19's disruptions are bare supermarket shelves and items available yesterday but nowhere to be found today. As you seek ways to replace them, you can look to Native gardens for ideas and inspiration.

Read More Show Less
Although considered safe overall, aloe vera does carry the risk of making some skin rashes worse. serezniy / Getty Images

By Kristeen Cherney

Skin inflammation, which includes swelling and redness, occurs as an immune system reaction. While redness and swelling can develop for a variety of reasons, rashes and burns are perhaps the most common symptoms. More severe skin inflammation can require medications, but sometimes mild rashes may be aided with home remedies like aloe vera.

Read More Show Less
There are plenty of things you can do every day to help reduce greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint to make a less harmful impact on the environment. ipopba / Getty Images

By Katie Lambert and Sarah Gleim

The United Nations suggests that climate change is not just the defining issue of our time, but we are also at a defining moment in history. Weather patterns are changing and will threaten food production, and sea levels are rising and could cause catastrophic flooding across the globe. Countries must make drastic actions to avoid a future with irreversible damage to major ecosystems and planetary climate.

Read More Show Less
Petri Oeschger / Moment / Getty Images

By Kris Gunnars, BSc

Sleep is one of the pillars of optimal health.

Read More Show Less

Junjira Konsang / Pixabay

By Matt Casale

For many Americans across the country, staying home to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) means adapting to long-term telework for the first time. We're doing a lot more video conferencing and working out all the kinks that come along with it.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Looking south from New York City's Central Park. Ajay Suresh / Wikipedia / CC BY 4.0

By Richard leBrasseur

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered humans' relationship with natural landscapes in ways that may be long-lasting. One of its most direct effects on people's daily lives is reduced access to public parks.

Read More Show Less