Beyond the BackyardBrian Piccolo Park

Burrowing Owls at Brian Piccolo Park

I made it to Brian Piccolo Park this year after all!  When Rich and I went to West Palm Beach to visit the turtles, we planned to also visit Butterfly World.  I’ve been wanting to visit the free-flight hummingbirds there ever since I saw Jamie’s incredible photo of the butterfly landing on a hummer’s head.  Unfortunately, the rain started to pour just as we reached the exit for Butterfly World.  So instead I told Rich to keep driving south, and we ended up at Brian Piccolo.  There are still some active Burrowing Owls there.  The park protects the nests by putting up a roped area around the burrow.  That also makes the burrows very easy to find!  I spent a very happy couple of hours watching these fun birds before it was time to head back to Juno for our turtle walk.

These fun little owls make their nests in burrows in the ground.  They are much smaller birds than most owls, about the size of an American Robin.  When we first arrived, it was still mid-day and the afternoon heat was fairly bad.  All the little owls were in their burrows, and I could just see their heads as they peeked out at me.  But as the thunderstorms rolled in, the breeze picked up and it cooled off, so they came out to pose for me

I found a burrow with five birds: two adults and three chicks.  They were such fun to watch as they hopped around!  The oldest chicks had permission to fly to the nearby tree, but Mom called them back as it got later in the evening.  The youngest chick doesn’t have his flying permit yet.  He stood watching his older siblings with envy.  It was such fun to watch the expressions of these guys.  They move those heads around quite a bit – they seem to notice everything!

So next year, I’m definitely heading back for mating and young chick time!! :)