Owls Gone, People Welcome

Park management reopened the decorative fence around the seasonal Burrowing Owl preserve this morning. Photographer Walter Karmazyn was on the scene and sent this photo of a Park mechanic at work rolling back the fence on the south side of the area. This is the location of the beautiful Open Circle viewpoint, an open air classroom and the best bird viewing spot in the park.

Park mechanic at work rolling up decorative fence on south side of seasonal Burrowing Owl preserve

The Open Air viewpoint was the only reliable spot from which to observe the sole Burrowing Owl (the “East Owl”) that took up seasonal residence in the preserve this past winter. Most days, its roost was in the rocks on the water’s edge, sheltered and invisible from the paved trail that curves on the outside of the Art Deco fence. That owl was last seen on March 4.

The Burrowing Owls we see in the park, if we are lucky, come here for the months when their home territories up north are frozen over. The park is their Florida. They normally migrate back up north during the month of March. The other Burrowing Owl that stayed in the park for the season, the so-called North Owl, was last seen here on March 11.

The north entrance of the seasonal preserve is also now open again to the public. It is popular with fishers, and also provides a lovely walking experience when the vegetation returns. The fennel bushes, chopped down last fall by Parks management in the mistaken belief that owls wanted a level environment, are starting to grow back. In fact, all the owls that visited the park last fall, including the long-term visitor, the North Owl, chose perching sites directly next to and under full-grown fennel bushes. The fennel crowns gave them some cover against flying predators like harriers, hawks, and kites.

Dogs are now permitted within the seasonal owl preserve, provided they are on leash.

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