I forgot to include in the last few posts that we have been recording our presentations as well. We're planning to make a short documentary film about us in the future that we might be able to show around the community (we're considering holding a local movie night to show Hoot, after which we will show our documentary and talk about our project to raise awareness).
We probably haven't mentioned too much about our sister project in Cape Coral, Florida, so far. However, we would like to share some recent developments in this area.
Cape Coral Burrowing Owls was founded by a woman known only as the Owl Lady online, when she found burrowing owls nesting in her front yard. She's an avid ornithologist who loves all birds, like us, but also like us, she finds burrowing owls especially endearing. She launched a starter colony for burrowing owls a while back after we shared our success with her from Phase I. Using similar techniques, she managed to create burrows, and even installed a webcam in them!
Today, we just found out from her that an owl has made its home in a one of her starter burrows! She inspected everything yesterday, and from the look of the nesting box, this owl may be expecting to raise chicks here! This is an incredible first success for burrowing owls in Florida, and my team and I are so excited to see how things will progress! Burrowing owl chicks are the most adorable, clown-ish, funny personalities you will ever meet, and honestly I can't wait for them to hatch!
I'm really rooting for the Owl Lady's burrows. Seriously, her use of our technique means more to us than I can even convey in words. Florida burrowing owls are actually quite different from Western ones, so the fact that they too can be convinced to reside in biomimetic artificial burrows is incredible, and really shows that we might, through our efforts, be able to help save burrowing owls from all around the world. I really can't believe we have made such an incredible impact on the lives of such birds, and I hope others will also take up similar tasks to protect this species. Thank you so much to the Owl Lady for your story, and to everyone else that helped make this project a success!
Today we presented to 4 different second grade classrooms in Torrey Hills Elementary School. We incorporated activities like burrowing owl drawing, musical chairs (to simulate the loss of habitat and death for burrowing owls), sang owl songs, and an informational presentation.
We opened the presentation up completely to questions afterward. Immediately, students began rapid-firing questions at us, almost overwhelming our presenters with their enthusiasm. Afterward, one teacher told us, "Thank you so much for coming today. The children definitely learned a lot today. We're doing the ecology unit right now, so this fit right into our learning right now." We're always glad to help!
We also gathered a few hundred more drawings to add to our letters of activism. The pictures are simple, like the children who drew them, but somehow they are masterful in their purity. There's a very innocent longing for other creatures' well-being embodied in these drawings, little inspirational messages and powerful pleas to save the burrowing owls and save their habitats. I was most impressed with the children's caring words and passionate work. I can only hope some were inspired to join us in conserving this species, and that they will always remember our words.
Today we gave our first presentation to a sixth grade class at Torrey Hills elementary school! We conducted the presentation in the Science Lab, and included a powerpoint, a fact-based (and therefore educational) burrowing-owl-themed bingo game, and letter-writing. Our first letters of activism were gathered today!
The students were just so enthusiastic to learn about the burrowing owl, and confused by the reasons for its decline. Why, they asked, did construction companies not simply avoid burrowing owl habitats? We had to give an economic answer, upon which one girl stood up and said, "It's not fair! They can live in their homes, and we can live in ours! Why do we make them move out?" Evidently, our presentation was successful in that students were galvanized to express such preservationist opinions for the burrowing owl. I only smiled at her, and remembered the time we had asked the same question, and first started on this journey.