Life was not easy for the burrowing owls during the summer months. It was hot, humid and rainy and to escape the heat during day, they sought shelter under doorways or window ledges and tree branches. During the rainy season, the grass around the burrows rapidly grew tall. Owls were not happy as they prefer short grass or sparse vegetation around their burrow sites so they can see approaching predators.
Marco Island burrowing owls are monitored by Audubon of Western Everglades through its Owl Watch Volunteer program, with a total of 182 burrows scattered all over the island.
Community Steps up Big Time
Val Simon, publisher of the Coastal Breeze News, came up with the “Adopt A Burrow” program where residents and businesses can adopt a burrow or become business sponsors. Val has always been involved with the burrowing owls way back when her two girls were young and when Nancy Richie was the coordinator of the program. Val wanted to have a process where the Owl Watch Program can raise funds to help with the burrow maintenance year round.
Sunshine Ace Hardware on San Marco Road answered the call to become involved. They donated a much needed weed whacker of commercial caliber, which made it easier for the volunteers to tackle the taller grass. They also provided shirts for the volunteers to wear, bearing the logos of both Sunshine Ace and the Owl Watch Program.
In Southwest Florida, Sunshine Ace is an active supporter of such causes such as the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure, The Shelter for Abused Women, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Delivering “sunshine” to the community is a big part of their identity.
According to Greg Rosen, Sunshine Ace store manager, he’s “always willing to help with local golf tournaments by sponsoring a hole for a good cause.” They are also supporters of Christmas Island Style, Marco Island Woman’s Club and Marco Island Sportfishing Club.
It seemed like the grass grew waist high each week, as groups of volunteers panned out all over the island in the last months. Thanks to Sharon and Brad Epple, who donated a new weed whacker to get the job done quicker. Nancy and Fred Adams, Karen and Ed Caster, Julie Ausbon, Connie Nemes, Bill and Lou Basch all picked up the pace to clear overgrown sites with an assist from Bill Cummins, a part-time Audubon employee. A big thanks to the owl-rific field brigade!
On behalf of the burrowing owls of Marco Island, the Owl Watch volunteers would like to thank the Champagne and Grado families for their generous financial support.
Owls are now happy sitting on their wooden perches with a clearer view of their surroundings. All thanks to the burrowing owls’ owl-mazing partners!
For more information on the Marco Island Owl Watch Program email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-643-7822. To Adopt a Burrow, please visit the website at www.collieraudobon.info/owl-watch.html. To report the destruction of burrowing owls or its burrows, please call 1-888-404-3922.