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Barn owl sighting at the Sanibel Lighthouse

June 11, 2018
By DEE CENTURY , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Even after 40 years, a beach walk at dusk around the Sanibel Lighthouse to the Sanibel pier always provides an entertaining human or wildlife sighting.

Sunset can be seen from the fishing pier this time of year, so it is a "Key West" atmosphere with equal parts fishermen and visitors. Bait fish have been thick there recently, so pelicans are lazily filling their pouches. Night herons gather in the top of the buttonwood trees at dusk looking for crabs. An osprey sighting is always a given. We even saw a tarpon jump that was being chased by dolphins.

But an abundance of marsh rabbits provided the best wildlife sighting of all - a barn owl. The large white ghost of a bird flew across our path right after I passed. Yes, I missed it! The owl flew right in front of Lucky Lucas, who was following me. It was his first-ever barn owl sighting after hearing me speak of them for 20 years and campaigning against the use of rat poisons to protect them.

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Barn owls hunt mostly by sound. Rabbits and rats make sounds that the owls cannot hear.

If there were indeed two nesting pairs last winter and if each pair fledged three or four chicks that survived, we will need more nesting boxes installed to grow the population. On Sanibel's east end, there is an empty box at the SCCF Bailey Homestead Preserve. A nest box at the Lighthouse sounds like a good idea.

Talk to your friends and neighbors about not using rat poisons to protect the owls, eagles, hawks and bobcats that might eat the poisoned rats. Keep our wildlife safe.

If anyone else has barn owl sightings, they can email

Dee Century is the Living With Wildlife Educator at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.



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