Burrowing owls returning to damaged habitat after Hurricane Ian

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CAPE CORAL

Hurricane Ian destroyed animal habitats in Southwest Florida, including underground burrows of burrowing owls.

The storm left the birds with no place to return and many were injured. Owls are everywhere in our community, and without a home they will become rare.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, home repairs are the top priority for many Southwest Florida residents.

The same mindset goes for burrowing owls. Like the people, their homes were affected by the storm surge.

“An owl won’t go into a wet burrow. So if it’s flooded and still wet, they’ll wait for it to dry out. I found out last week that people were pulling PVC and vacant lots on them. were knocking down because they assumed the owls wouldn’t come back, but that’s not true,” said Pascha Donaldson of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife.

Despite the water damage, many burrowing owls are back in Cape Coral as if nothing had happened.

In some cases, birds have been injured, and for those little ones, CROW is here to help.

“Since the storm, we have been receiving calls mainly from coastal areas but also from inland. Many trees have fallen, much of their natural habitat has been affected. We received, probably on average, about 30 calls a day,” said Allison Charney-Hussey, executive director of CROW.

Burrowing Owl released by CROW. (Credit: NEWS WINK)

One of the burrowing owls that CROW rehabilitated was initially found lethargic, but was released Tuesday where he was found, healthy.

CROW wants to remind you that wildlife are capable of fending for themselves, so only approach them if necessary.

“If you observe anything that seems out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to call us. But the fauna is very resistant. We see this post Ian. We’ve seen it in other storms,” Charney-Hussey said.

If you can’t resist helping out, Donaldson said it starts with cleaning up any burrows that exist.

Burrowing owl burrow. (Credit: NEWS WINK)

“Sometimes there’s a plastic bag in there, sometimes a coconut in there, sometimes it’s just trash in there. So the burrow has to be cleaned for that bird to come back,” Donaldson said.

Southwest Florida is home to the birds, and in some cases, they need help to recover, just like the rest of us.

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