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Six more weeks of ‘winter’ in the Cape, Owl-iver sees his shadow

By Staff | Feb 4, 2019

Well, there you have it folks. The owl has spoken.

Cape Coral residents can expect six more weeks of “winter” as the city’s official bird, the burrowing owl, saw its shadow Saturday morning at the inaugural Ground-Owl Day at the Rotary Club Garden at City Hall, indicating continued cooler temps in Southwest Florida, something the crowd seemed to be all for.

“It’s the first of the Ground-Owl Day here in Cape Coral, and I hope it becomes a tradition over time,” said Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello. “We had a real nice turn out, there were quite a few people here. It’s a great thing to recognize our city bird-and that fact that we need to be environmentally conscious of what goes on. This is just a fun way to gather and kick-off the Burrowing Owl Festival that’s coming up.”

The event was put on by the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife in conjuncture with the Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department.

Standing tall and proud on his T-perch, the newly dubbed “Owl-iver” stood firm protecting his burrow and posing for the more than 100 attendees fawning over his regal demeanor.

His partner, “Owl-ivia,” was said to be in the burrow either with eggs or newborn owlets.

A proclamation was read by the Mayor declaring Feb. 2 as Ground-Owl Day in the Cape, in honor of the bird that bring lots of eco-tourism due to its unique qualities.

There are over 2,500 burrows across the city that are protected by law, as the owl’s are classified as a “species of special concern” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“We recognize that as we build out our city, we also have to be conscious of the fact that we have neighbors like owls, and tortoises, and eagles, and manatees, and everything else that brings people to our city,” the mayor continued. “It’s also a great economic development tool to have eco-tourism in the forefront here in Cape Coral.”

As the crowd gathered to mingle and enjoy refreshments on a picturesque Florida morning, Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife Vice President Pascha Donaldson, announced that Owliver had seen his shadow and also announced the naming contest winners.

Lynn Walker was the creative mind behind Owliver, and Stan and Mary Beth Pszczolkowski for Owl-ivia.

The CCFW handed out prize packages to the top three names for male and female.

“I think it was a great turn out for the first Ground-Owl Day,” said Donaldson. “I think everybody had a good time, a fun time, and it’s a great way to kick off our festival. I hope that it continues to grow, maybe with some additions down the line. If we get the community behind us, it’s just one more fun event to have in this wonderful city of Cape Coral.”

Coviello did his best impersonation of the President of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club Inner Circle, complete with top hat and sharp suit.

“We found the hat finally,” he joked. “Took us a little while, we had a crazy day yesterday, we finally got to a store and found one and I thought it would go over well and be a nice hit for today to have the hat and look the part.

“Maybe next year we’ll get more council members with hats.”

The ceremony was not without entertainment, as Cape Coral resident and “pioneer” Elmer Tabor, alongside his granddaughter, Ava, put on a delightful and smile-inducing dance to Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr’s “Me and My Shadow,” dressed in burrowing owl costumes.

“I think everybody enjoyed that because I’m not sure we could have trained the owls to pop out at the right time. So plan B was to have our little owls,” said Donaldson with a smile. “Thank you to Elmer Tabor and his granddaughter for entertaining us, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a day to have fun.”

It seemed that all in attendance found the day to be a “hoot.”

CCFW’s Burrowing Owl Festival is Feb. 23, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Rotary Park Environmental Center in the South Cape.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj