Photo shared on Berkeleyside’s Flickr page, taken on Jan.1, 2014, by Alex Madonik

The burrowing owls that make their home at César Chávez Park on the Berkeley Marina every year are back.

Patrick Hickey, who works out in the pre-dawn hours most mornings at the park, says he has noticed a pair of the birds there for at least the past month.

“They sit right on the edge of the path perhaps three feet away. They always seem to flank the edge of the protected corner area,” he said. “They are quite small. They look at me but I say nothing and I keep moving. I think they realize I don’t want to mess with them. Or they are dangerously blasé!”

Burrowing owl
Photo, shared on Berkeleyside’s Flickr page, taken on Jan.1, 2014, by Alex Madonik

Western burrowing owls have been designated a “species of special concern” by the state of California, as their population has been declining.

To help protect them, the city of Berkeley collaborated with the Golden Gate Audubon Society, and erected temporary fencing in 2009 at César Chávez Park to keep dogs and people out of the owls’ preferred roosting area along the shore. Docents are available at designated times to talk to visitors about the owls.

The owls are usually to be found at the Marina October through early April.

Can’t get enough of them: Berkeley’s burrowing owls [02.19.13]
Burrowing owls come out to preen at Berkeley Marina [02.11.13]
Burrowing owls and docents return to Berkeley Park [02.16.12]
How the predatory barn owl became Berkeley’s official bird [01.23.12]
Berkeley owl chick will soon branch out, says expert [04.2612]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...