The Florida burrowing owl is a threatened species in the State of Florida and is therefore protected, along with its burrows, by several state and federal regulations. The Florida burrowing owl is a small, ground-dwelling owl with long legs, a round head and very large bright yellow eyes. They are not only unique due to their size; they are diurnal which means they are active during the day time, unlike many owls that are active at night.

Burrowing owls derive their name from the burrows they dig in the ground, which serve as their nest as well as a refuge from predators. Although they are capable of digging their own burrows, they are known to take over the burrows of other animals such as armadillos. They prefer open areas with low grasses and historically occupied prairies. Many burrowing owls have adapted to occupying developed parcels of land, such as golf courses, airports and oddly enough, cemeteries.

Cemeteries provide ample suitable habitat with maintained grasses, disturbed plots of earth, which makes burrowing easy, and grave stones that serve as perches. Their burrows are often found under grave markers. These owls can be common residents for many cemeteries in Florida and can disrupt regular burial operations.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service require permitting prior to disturbing the owls or their burrows. We have been assisting cemeteries with these permitting services to help keep cemetery operations running smoothly.

For more information on Burrowing Owl Permitting Services, contact ecologist, Sarah Webber at [email protected].