Want to help burrowing owl conservation and research?
By symbolically adopting a Burrowing Owl or becoming an Owl Watch Patron Program, you can help fund critical needs of the Owl Watch program on Marco Island. Each season, Owl Watch needs funds to purchase materials for posting new burrows, hire trained professional landscapers to weed-whack postings, and buy supplies to continue our community outreach and education. Click here to learn more about AWE’s Owl Watch Program
You can adopt an owl at one of four different levels of support, or become a member of our Owl Watch Patron Program. Depending on what level of support, when you adopt an owl you an receive an adoption certificate, your owl’s nesting season summary, fact sheet, photo of your adopted owl, and a stuffed owl puppet! And with our highest level of Patron support, you can name a newly banded owl, get a private tour to see Marco’s Burrowing Owls, and have lunch with a knowledgeable Audubon Staff member. Corporate sponsorships are also available.
Potato was named by a young boy who decided both owls and potatoes were brown and lived underground. We whole-heatedly agreed, and Potato the owl was named! Potato might be shy, but he and his mate successfully raised 3 chicks in 2018–all with green eyes. Potato is a favorite of many here at Owl Watch. Seeing him always puts a smile on our face, and hopefully he will do the same for you!
This boat ramp owl is a male named Rocky by the monitor for that particular neighborhood. He was banded at Caxambas Park on April 7, 2018 as an adult, making him at least 2 years old this year. Last year, he and his mate were one of the first pairs on the island to nest, hatching their chicks very early in the season. Their two chicks were banded when they were old enough, and we’ve since found one of them alive and well nesting less than a quarter mile away on a nearby street. This year, Rocky and his mate nested later than usual and only raised one chick, which they kept well-hidden from biologists until the chick was almost old enough to fly. Despite the chaos of living at a boat ramp, Rocky is doing well!
The scientific name for burrowing owls is Athene cunicularia – named for Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, handicraft, and war. In mythology, the goddess Athena is often depicted with a small owl companion. Just like the goddess, Athena the owl is crafty and feisty! She was a strong mother to 5 chicks in 2018, above average for Burrowing Owls on Marco Island.
This resilient male, named Ocean in honor of his burrow location in the dunes of Marco Island Beach, has faced many challenges. He was banded as an adult in 2018, along with his mate. The pair produced chicks for 2 summers, then Ocean’s mate disappeared. He moved a bit south on the beach, and paired with a banded female, who had also just lost her mate. Sadly, in early 2020, Ocean had to be taken to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida for emergency care. It was suspected rodenticide poisoning, as his mate was found dead in their burrow. After a healthy rehab, he’s been solo for a while, but recently has been sighted with a new mate. Fingers crossed for nesting success for this tough, little owl.
Why do researchers band owls?
AWE has partnered with the Rangeland Wildlife Lab at the University of Florida (UF-IFAS) to learn more about the Burrowing Owls of Marco Island. Burrowing Owls are being banded as part of a UF study across Southwest Florida. Each owl receives a unique combination of three plastic color bands and one metal band issued by the federal Bird Banding Laboratory at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). These bands allow researchers and volunteers to identify individual owls throughout nesting season and from year to year. Data collected from sightings of these banded owls are used to answer questions about Burrowing Owl lifespan, reproductive success, dispersal, and survival, which are essential to the conservation of this threatened species. Click to learn more about UF’s research (coming soon).
NEW Owl Watch Patron Program
AWE now has Owl Watch Patron Program packages. We have two packages to choose from:
$500 Package includes a symbolic certificate of adoption of a burrowing owl, burrowing owl fact sheet, 4x6 & 8x10 print of a burrowing owl, burrowing owl notecards, and special recognition on our website and in our Annual Report.
$1,000 Package includes all of the above benefits PLUS you get to name a banded owl, you get a private owl tour for four people, and you get lunch with a knowledgeable Audubon Staff member to talk owls.
These options are located in the Adopt An Owl section. Click on the Adopt button on any owl and choose your package.