Cape Coral is a city of about 160,000 in Lee County, Florida, near the Gulf Coast. Apparently it is the 2nd largest Florida city by area, but it doesn't have a big city feel. It might be called the "Venice of the America's", as there are some 400 miles of canals - more than any other city on earth.
But I wasn't here to seek gondolas - it was one of the most curious of feathered beasts that I sought.
A seemingly innocuous side street in residential Cape Coral. But wait! What are those exclosures dotting the grassy sands?
Total Burrowing Owl estimates for Florida range from a high of 10,000 pairs to as few as 3,000. Cut the difference and figure there's maybe 6,500 pairs still tunneling in the landscape, and one quickly sees the significance of Cape Coral as a refugia for these tunneling hooters. Perhaps one-sixth of ALL of Florida's Burrowing Owls live here.
To their credit, the city does work diligently to protect the owls, and promote their well-being. Developers are provided guidelines to work around nesting sites, and residents are encouraged to take steps to create better conditions for the owls. A group known as the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife even sponsors a "Burrowing Owl Festival".
If you are ever in the area, take some time and investigate the Burrowing Owls of Cape Coral. Their relationship with people in this city of canals is certainly one of the more interesting interactions of man and beast.