One of the cool things about visiting Florida is how relaxed all the birds appear to be. If you love taking pictures of birds, it’s great. A person can get very close to your subjects and they are not alarmed. Since people tend to go to Florida with the idea of retirement or vacation, perhaps the birds feel the same way too? The warm temptures don’t hurt either. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the winter owls I get to see up here in snowy Minnesota, but some days I long to go outside wearing only one layer of clothing. As a matter of fact, heat is your biggest challenge in Florida because once it warms up and humidity gets going, heat shimmer will make all your photos blurry…or “arty” depending on your point of view.
But when you have relaxed birds, you have an opportunity to really play around with all the different features on your phone and what your scope set up can do for you. You also have the opportunity to really line up your shot and get the bird in a cool background that can really make it pop.
Cape Coral is known for its burrowing owls and they are incredibly relaxed!
Though burrowing owls are perfectly capable of digging out their own burrow to nest in, some residents have grass that make it too difficult. In that case, people will create “starter burrows” for them and even mark each one with “T” perches for the adults to roost on. If you want to see one of these tiny owls with long leg, just drive around and look for the “T” as they can be found on lawns or city parks.
While visiting this part of Florida, I went in search of the infamous “Ts” and found them right away. I kept what I thought was a respectable distance from the burrowing owl to get shots. They were okay, but I wasn’t thrilled with the street and yellow fire hydrant in the background. As I was trying to readjust my angle, I heard someone yelling at me.
“Hey, lady, you can get way close to them than that!”
It was a homeowner who lived across the street from a burrow. “Don’t be so shy, you’ll know if you get too close. You’ll get a better photo in front of my house!”
I thanked him and moved my car closer. I like to use it as a blind since birds don’t seem to be bothered by vehicles, just the people who come out of them. I didn’t want to get too close because my scope has so much zoom that if I’m too close I can’t get a full body shot. But as I was across the street from the owl, the homeowner was correct, the owl didn’t care about me at all. It was more focused on watching for large insects and mice to eat. So I set up my scope and iPhone in my PhoneSkope case. From this angle I was able to lower my scope to get grass behind the burrowing owl and give it a lovely background to make the plumage pop.
And with that I got one of my all time favorite photos of an owl that I’ve ever taken. It has a great background and I love the sexy look in the bird’s eyes. Pretty sure it was probably thinking about food rather than partying with the ladies. After getting amazing shots of the cooperative bird, I drove around looking for more markers. I was hoping to see some young poking up out of a nesting burrow as well as adults. Let’s face it, owlet are adorable!
And I did not have to drive far at all!
I found a family group of two adults and at least three owlets hanging outside their burrow a few blocks away. There could have been more owlets inside the nest but without seeing them I cannot know for certain. The crazy thing was that the burrow was in a small city park, just behind a very active baseball field. As some little league teams played behind them. They didn’t seem to mind the action or the noise from the enthusiastic parents. If anything the young birds seemed fascinated by it.
The nesting burrow was close to the road and hardly any cars passed by me but there were several joggers and dog walkers. If people were jogging or walking along with the stroller the owls were not bothered. But any dog, even one on the leash made the parents very alert and had the young scrambling for the burrow. Perhaps they’ve encountered some off leash dogs or maybe they resembled coyotes a little too much, but the burrowing owls were clearly not fans.
But since everyone was being so chill, I took the time to play around with not only photos on my phone, but also video and some time lapse.