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Volunteer With Our Burrowing Owl Program

Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia floridana), listed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as Threatened in the state due to low population numbers and current population trends, and as a Bird of Conservation Concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2003, were once abundant in Hillsborough County.

Where Burrowing Owls occurred during the 1986-1991 Breeding Bird Atlas.

To help these small, handsome, and fierce predators of insects and small animals, Tampa Audubon has joined a number of Audubon chapters in Florida installing artificial burrows to provide safer homes. We hope these burrows will increase survival of our region’s Burrowing Owls and their young.

This is one of the projects that we are working on. We have a grant from the Tampa Bay Estuary Program’s Bay MiniGrants for materials. We are identifying locations for prospective burrows. And we are recruiting volunteers to help with burrow installations. Will you be part of this project?

Florida's History of Burrowing Owls

In 1996, Brian Millsap estimated between 3,000 and 10,000 Burrowing Owls in Florida based on density estimates from different areas. However, when Pamela Bowen surveyed Burrowing Owls in Florida in 2000, she found only 1,757 adult owls. There is no doubt the species has not done well in Hillsborough County, as reflected by a decrease in abundance Breeding Bird Surveys when 20 pairs were found in 1972 compared to 5 pairs in 1983, and less than that number today. Our winter 2022 Tampa and Alafia Christmas Bird Counts found no Burrowing Owls at all.

Historically, the Burrowing Owl occupied the open native prairies of Central Florida where the well-drained, sandy soil is conducive to their nesting habit of digging shallow tunnels. With human development, they survive in cleared areas that offer an expanse of short, herbaceous groundcover, such as pastures, golf courses, fallow agricultural fields, vacant lots, airports, and athletic fields.

How to Volunteer

To volunteer in our owl program and any other conservation initiative of our Audubon chapter, please visit our website. Or, if you have an idea that will help protect birds and wildlife in Hillsborough County, please call or email me.

Thanks for being part of our team. Working together, we make a difference.

Ann Paul, President, Tampa Audubon Society


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