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CCFW: Owl ‘adoption’ makes a great gift for the holidays

By CJ HADDAD - | Nov 11, 2021

Looking to fill your favorite animal lover’s stocking this year? The Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife is hoping the public will adopt a burrowing owl this holiday season to help ensure the future home of Cape Coral’s official bird in a rapidly developing city.

CCFW offers a range of adoption packages that include burrowing owl merchandise.

The campaign’s mission is to raise funds to purchase land for the preservation and protection of wildlife in Cape Coral that includes the burrowing owl, gopher tortoise, Florida scrub jay, bald eagle, manatee, purple martin and others.

The Cape is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world with one of the largest burrowing owl colonies in the United States, CCFW said, adding they want to keep it that way forever.

And the best way to do that by buying lots with burrowing owls nests.

Levels of adoption include: Advocate ($25), Defender ($50), Ambassador ($100), Champion ($500) and Benefactor ($10,000).

The first donation level includes an adoption certificate and burrowing owl pin. The second includes the previous items and a magnet. The third includes tier one and two items as well as a burrowing owl T-shirt and child’s owl book. The fourth includes all items as well as a personal guided tour of burrowing owls in the Cape. The fifth and highest tier will ensure the purchase of a preservation lot.

Ways to donate are varied and are not limited to the above selections.

CCFW Vice President Pascha Donaldson feels it’s paramount now more than ever to protect a one-of-a-kind species from being overwhelmed by development and becoming extinct as so many animals are around the world. She believes we need to make an all out effort to protect Cape Coral’s official city bird.

“The price of land is getting very expensive,” Donaldson said. “The build-out plan for Cape Coral is for 400,000 people, which will leave very little green space for wildlife.”

Eco-tourism also is a major factor in ensuring habitat for a species that calls Cape Coral home more than anywhere else in the United States.

Burrowing owls are the only bird species that, just as their namesake indicates, burrows underground to make home. These pint-sized birds burrow underground where they nest from early February through mid-July. They do not migrate, they stay near their burrows year-round providing they do not get overgrown or have the burrow blocked.

“Because of our owls and our wildlife, we are getting eco-tourism dollars. That can be sustainable eco-tourism dollars throughout the years if we do this preservation,” Donaldson said.

Driving around the city, it’s hard to miss burrows marked by a T-perch. In fact, Cape Coral is home to more than 2,500 burrows that are protected by law, as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission classify the owls as a “threatened species.”

“We do not want it to move to endangered or extinct,” Donaldson said.

Every Wednesday (weather permitting), CCFW members scour the city for owl burrows for protection and upkeep. Donaldson said volunteers put in more than 10,000 hours a year, and that the focus now is to acquire lots through donations.

Since 2017, the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust (an arm of CCFW) has purchased more than 44 lots in Cape Coral for more than $300,000.

To make a donation or find more information on CCFW, visit ccfriendsofwildlife.org/adopt-a-cape-coral-burrowing-owl/. Vacant lots that are donated to Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife or the Cape Coral Wildlife Trust can benefit taxes since they are a 501-(c)(3) organization.

If you prefer to send a donation by mail, a donation form can be downloaded at ccfriendsofwildlife.org. Checks can be mailed to:

Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife

PO Box 152761

Cape Coral, FL 33915

Call 239-980-2593 to donate any amount over $500.

–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj