Cruise Ships Potential Habitats For Burrowing Owls?

Probably not, but intrepid burrowing owl sure did try.

The above Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is of a burrowing owl that tried to set up a territory mini-golf course on Royal Caribbean International's "Oasis of the Seas" last Saturday.  The ship was about to depart Port Everglades for the high seas when a crew member called the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regarding this unusual passenger.

FWC Lt. David Bingham and a Broward County Sheriff's Office deputy were able to safely remove the small owl from the golf course. Bingham released the owl in an open field in western Broward County.

"Never in all of my 25 years with the FWC have I seen anything like this, and I have responded to some strange calls," Bingham said. "I am very pleased the owl wasn't injured and that we could get it back to a normal habitat."

As a species of special concern, Florida burrowing owls, their burrows and their eggs are protected from harassment and/or disturbance by state law. Burrowing owls also are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

"Burrowing owls need to be in open, treeless areas where they can dig their burrow," said FWC biologist Ricardo Zambrano. "The artificial turf on the ship's golf course resembles the fields they use for nesting in urban areas; however, it was obviously not suitable habitat for this owl."

One has to wonder how long this owl was there and what it might have been feeding on.  According to Cornell's Birds of North America Online, burrowing owls are "pportunistic feeders; primarily arthropods, small mammals, and birds; amphibians and reptiles also reported and may be important in Florida."