Burrowing Owls are Great Moms!
If you get too close to a protective burrowing owl mom you’ll get a “Back Off” stare, and she will puff her feathers, hiss and bob her head.

Burrowing Owls are Great Moms!

By Maria Lamb

On Mother’s Day, we honor our moms with traditional gestures of love – preparing her favorite breakfast treats, a festive bouquet of flowers, or a box of yummy chocolates. This Mother’s Day, how about remembering your mom with something out-of-the-box – a gift of nature that also helps to preserve Marco Island’s amazing burrowing owls for future generations to enjoy. Human moms have many things in common with the island’s burrowing owl moms!

In burrows all over Marco Island, mother owls have been busy tending to their newly hatched chicks. It is mid-spring, the weather is warm and insects are plentiful – just the right time for hatchlings to arrive. Owl moms are very devoted to their young, and, just like their human counterparts, mother owls take parenting very seriously. From the beginning, the owl mothers do all the incubation duties, which involve sitting on the eggs for 28 days; making sure the temperature is just right, and venturing out only to feed and to stretch out. Once chicks are hatched, she shares the hunting and feeding duty with daddy owl. Daddy “brings home the bacon,” while mom feeds the chicks.

Mom’s number one job is to feed her hungry chicks until they can hunt for themselves. For now, mom is in charge of the menu, which consists of insects, lizards, small birds, frogs and a variety of small mammals. Chicks are constantly hungry, calling and chattering for food and attention. Mom is the teacher and soon the lessons will include meal choices – which critters to eat and which ones to avoid; mothers also teach the lessons of flight, hunting, and avoiding predators.

Just like their human counterparts, motherhood is about taking care of the chicks, protecting them, so that someday they will be able to fend for themselves and leave the nest. A burrowing owl is the classic “helicopter” mom. Venture too close to the burrow and you are going to get the “Back Off” stare and posture, consisting of hissing sounds and aggressive head bobbing.

Mom preening her chick to remove dust, dirt and parasites.

Honor a special mom this Mother’s Day by adopting a burrowing owl while also preserving burrowing owls in Marco Island. Your adoption package will include an owl gift pack and a certificate of adoption personalized with your mom’s name. Or simply make a donation in honor of your mom and she will be informed of your thoughtful gift.

Please visit the website: audubonwe.org and click on the Owl Watch tab. For questions, please email audobonlive.com.



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