poster about florida burrowing owl protection

Is the Burrowing Owl in immediate danger, for example vandalism or construction activity?
Contact the Law Enforcement Division of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Cell phones call *FWC or #FWC

You can call 24 hours a day/7 days a week and can choose to remain anonymous. If the owls are not in immediate danger, the FWC can send signs to the property owner or manager for use in notifying people in the area of the protected status of the Burrowing Owls.

Do the owls need protecting or is there a new unmarked nests?
Please send a good description of the location, address, GPS point, and a picture always helps.

Broward, Miami Dade, and Palm Beach Counties:
Contact via email at

Lee County:
Contact Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife at 239-980-2593


A Protected Species
Florida Burrowing owls are a State listed as “Threatened Species”. This means that the birds, their eggs and burrows are protected by Federal and State laws. Although you are trying to help them, you cannot disturb, pursue, hunt, or catch a Burrowing owl; it is against the law.

On top of that, a sick or injured owl is already stressed out. The owl can be weak and dehydrated. You do not want to add to its distress. You always want to observe the owl from a safe distance, use binoculars if you can.

Your ONLY job is to be a trained observer. You want to ask and answer all of the questions and then call for the right help, if it is necessary.


Are you sure it is a Burrowing owl?

Is the owl small, about 9” tall?
Does it LACK ear tufts?
Does it have a round head?
Is it dirt brown with white spots?
Or is it buff colored?
Does it have long legs?

Does it HAVE ear tufts?
Is the owl gray or red in color?
Is the underside strongly barred?
Does it have short legs?

Eastern Screech owls typically nest in tree cavities while Burrowing owls usually nest underground. Sometimes habitat can be an indicator, but Burrowing owls do roost in trees.

Are they Owlets?
Owl babies are called owlets and are small, fluffy and buff colored in both species. It makes them difficult to tell apart. Most of the time, the best way to identify a baby is to identify a parent.

burrowing owl standing on one leg

Is the owl standing on one leg and so it appears injured?
Birds, including owls, often rest with one leg tucked up underneath them. Sometimes, they may appear like they have a hurt leg, but this is not the case, they are just fine.

Do you think the owl is sick because you have found it during the day?
Most owls are nocturnal or active at night, however; Burrowing owls are diurnal or also active during the day. So it is not unusual to see a Burrowing owl resting or roosting during the day, in fact this is very normal.

Is the Burrowing owl dead?
Burrowing owls are a protected species and are not to be harmed in any way, so help protect them by reporting any dead owls to the proper authorities.

Burrowing owls enjoying the sunshine

Does the owl have its wing stretched out and so it appears injured?
Burrowing owls enjoy the sunshine and when relaxed, will stretch their wings out and lay very still, often times they are asleep. When they do this on a sidewalk, it appears they have been stepped on.

Does the owl exhibit any of the following indicators?
Does the owl have a visible injury?
Does the owl have uneven shoulders?
Does the owl have a drooping wing?
Does the owl have dilated pupils?
Does the owl wobble or fall over?
Does the owl have tremors or shake?

If you see any of the above indicators, please call and get the owl help. Contact the rescue center closest to the owl’s location.


East Coast Florida

Broward County:

South Florida Wildlife Center
Ft Lauderdale, Florida 33315


Sawgrass Nature Center
3000 Sportsplex Dr, Coral Springs, FL 33065

Miami Dade County:

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
1279 79th Street Causeway
Miami, Florida 33138


Wildlife Rescue of Dade County

Palm Beach County:

McCarthy’s Wildlife Rescue
12943 61st St N, West Palm Beach, FL 33412


Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
17855 Rocky Pines Rd, Jupiter, FL 33478

Monroe County:

Marathon Wild Bird Center
5550 Overseas Hwy A, Marathon, FL 33050


Key West Wild Bird Center
1801 White St, Key West, FL 33040

West Coast Florida

Lee County:

CROW Clinic
3883 Sanibel Captiva Rd, Sanibel, FL 33957

We thank you for helping the Burrowing Owls.
Can’t find your location listed?
Reach out to local nature centers, or wildlife organizations.
They may be able to provide guidance on who to contact for assistance.

How to tell if it is a burrowing owl or a screech owl


florida burrowing owl
  • 7.5 – 10 inches tall – a short, stocky bird
  • Long bare legs
  • Smooth rounded head, NO ear tufts
  • Big yellow eyes, sometimes green or flecked with black
  • Brown birds mottled with white spots on the upper parts
  • Spotted breast grading to stripes across the belly
  • Bold white unibrow and white chinstrap
  • Live in open habitats with sparse vegetation
  • Spend most of their time on the ground or on low perches
  • Active during the day also dusk and dawn
  • Nests and lives underground in burrows they dig themselves
  • They will roost in trees during rainy season


eastern screech owl
  • 6 – 10 inches tall – a short, stocky bird
  • Short feathered legs
  • Rounded head with feathered “ear tufts”
  • Big yellow-green eyes
  • Gray or mostly reddish-brown (rufous) patterned feathers
  • Very well camouflaged in the trees, they match bark patterns
  • Live in most types of woods (urban or rural)
  • Spend most of the time camouflaged in the trees
  • Active at night, also dusk and dawn
  • Nests and lives in tree cavities excavated by others