One of the smallest owls in Florida, the burrowing owl spends most of its time on the ground using its sandy brown color as camouflage. It burrows in the ground for nesting and hiding from predators while feeding on insects, frogs, and mice. There are certain things you should know about burrowing owls when moving to Cape Coral and how it may affect your property.
Cape Coral burrowing owls were originally native to the prairies of Central Florida, but in recent years have migrated further south due to their habitat being cleared for construction. Cape Coral has the largest population in the state. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) has listed the owls as a State Threatened species.
Cape Coral Burrowing Owls Nesting Season
Officially recognized from February 15th to July 10th each year with its peak in mid-March is nesting season for the burrowing owls. Babies will usually stay near their nest until August and are likely to return to the same nest as an adult if it is not damaged. These owls are not known to be aggressive toward humans. Although, they will make a lot of noise and display their wings if threatened.
Can I Build a House if Burrowing Owls are on My Lot?
You can still build on your lot when there is a nest on your property. The Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission has taken efforts to protect the owls. In any case, the builder must maintain a 10-foot radius from the entrance and 33 feet during nesting season. Although, you can build a home next to an owl’s burrow without a permit depending on the proximity.
The developer must obtain an incidental take permit with the FFWCC to destroy the nest when it cannot be relocated. This is a last resort when there is no other way to build around the nest. Since burrowing owls return to the nest years later, the nest must be destroyed with a permit from the FFWCC. However, owls may still create a new nest on the same site. A burrow can be collapsed and construction can immediately begin only when no chicks or eggs are found.
Cape Coral Burrowing Owl Permitting
The FWC charges a mitigation fee of $1,900 per cluster of burrows removed, and the permit generally takes 60-75 days to be issued. Starter burrows are installed on the property after construction is complete then the fee can be dropped. More importantly, it is illegal to fill in a burrow even if the site seems inactive. State law protects burrowing owl nests from harassment and disturbance. Inactive burrows still require a permit to remove. Learn more about this process here.
Ecologist Ian Vincent shared with us three very important factors involved with owl permitting to consider.
- First, you have to have a site plan showing the proposed home for the application and the applicant has to be the owner of the property.
- Next, you cannot begin any site work during nesting season (February 15-July 10). You need to submit an application ASAP to have a good chance of getting the permit before nesting season begins.
- Then, you are required to begin clearing/grading within 48 hours of the excavation of the burrows.
Who Can I Contact About Removing Wildlife From My Lot?
Ian Vincent and Associates, the principal ecologist with Ian Vincent and Associates in Port Charlotte can help. Ian is extremely knowledgeable about Florida wildlife. He works with several builders in the area to take care of their environmental and wildlife needs. Below is his contact information:
Furthermore, contact us when you are looking to buy or sell your property in Cape Coral and we would be happy to help you through the process!