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Burrowing owls found dead at Shoreline Golf course

Original post made on Jun 10, 2014

City officials revealed this week that a pair of the city's rare burrowing owls were found dead in their burrow on the Shoreline Golf Links golf course in March, apparently killed by a plastic sand bottle from a golf cart.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, June 10, 2014, 1:17 PM

Comments (53)

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Posted by Bill Murray in that One Movie
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm

For the past 2 weeks, I've had the same question to many news stories.

"What is wrong with people?"


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Posted by Susan
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 10, 2014 at 2:36 pm

The little owls are completely precious and very shy. I used to mow some of the mounds out by the Rengstorff House to keep the grass low so that they could see predators coming. They would fly away, wait for us to finish and then fly beck "home" when we were done. May bad things happen to the cretin who did this! EVERYONE knows about Burrowing Owls at Shoreline! They only weigh a few ounces each and are about 7 inches tall. Indeed, what IS wrong with people.


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Posted by Hmm
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm

This is news? What is wrong with people? There are a lot of owls in the wild just need to pass city limits.

Maybe we should ban plastic sand bottles? Or better yet, shut down the whole golf range.


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Posted by OMG
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

IDIOT!!


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Posted by Ugh
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm

It's probably the same people who continue to drop cats off in Shoreline park. The burrowing owls will soon be on the endangered species list...how can people be so obtuse???


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Posted by Greg Coladonato
a resident of Slater
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Greg Coladonato is a registered user.

I am saddened to hear that someone, presumably maliciously, did something to attack defenseless little animals. I don't know what gets into people sometimes.

"The burrowing owls will soon be on the endangered species list"

May I ask what the basis for this comment is? Because when I read the Wikipedia page for Burrowing Owls (Web Link), the Burrowing Owl is categorized as "Least Concern", which according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, means it is not even close to being threatened, which is what a species would go through before being endangered (Web Link).

More information on the Status and Conservation of the Athene cunicularia hypugaea can be found here: Web Link.




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Posted by MORE LAWS/BIG FINES NEEDED
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:34 pm

The golf course knew there was a danger, and now more needs to be done!! The golf course should be fined. Plastic bottles should NOT be allowed on the golf course. 24 hour security on all the golf courses and a heavy penalty if another death occurs. I agree with the above comment - get rid of the golf course!!! This should be a protected area and the golf course is NOT doing all it can to prevent this in the future.


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Posted by Robert
a resident of Slater
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Robert is a registered user.

I think that the city should lower its flags to half staff for at least a week, and conduct a big funeral procession down Castro St. NOT


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Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm

Wow Robert, Atta Boy... with your attitude, soon enough ours will be the only sad species left on the planet.

Greg, these are "locally" endangered and seriously in declinein their historical range in the Santa Clara County. Our local Audubon society is working hard to protect them. Globally they are of "Least Concern" but locally it is another story. Similar story to the Western Snowy Plover.


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Posted by Mary
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Until the owl population is stabilized I vote for closing the golf course or at least have the section that has the last few remaining owls left off limits for now.
Come on Mountain View let's get it together and prove we are as good at preservation as we are expansion.
I know many MV children will be heartbroken to hear of this story.


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Posted by nikonbob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

To Hmm and Robert...Are you lives really so pitifully empty that you have nothing better to do than ridicule something that obviously means something to some people in this community? Pretty pathetic.

Like my mother taught me, if you've got nothing worthwhile to say, then just shut up!

Or better yet, "It's better to say nothing and have people think you're a fool, than open your mouth and confirm it".


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Posted by Steve
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Threatened species or not that was just a S***** thing to do. And if it was some moron making a statement about the extreme lengths taken to protect the birds, it backfired.


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Posted by Chelsea
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:09 pm

So will they let the feral cats return, none of which were proven to have harmed an owl, and kick the golfers out instead?


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Posted by Give me that club for a second
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Somewhere some golfer either feels like a complete jackass, or is one....actually, it is likely BOTH.


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Posted by Bunched Knickers
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:28 pm

The fertilizers and insecticides pumped into the environment are doing a lot more damage, and washing into the bay. Golf courses are one of the most wasteful uses of land you can think of. Only 2 to 4 people per hole in a HUGE area artificially filled water sucking lawn.


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Posted by Shoreline Golfer
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm

So there are obviously a lot of golf haters. The course was there before the owls. The owls like the golf habitat because of the low grass. There is no evidence this was done by a golfer. The sand bottles are readily available and sometimes left out on the course.

My paranoid suspicion is that someone from the Audubon society did this to get publicity for their cause.

Also , the amount of increased effort on surveillance is a waste of time. Better to spend the money to protect humans than owls.


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Posted by Gophers
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm

First, this is an old news story.

Second, the golfers likely didn't know anything about burrowing owls. They probably thought the holes were for gophers. Has anyone on this site ever considered taking action against a gopher in their yard?

Not saying its ok...but the knowledge of burrowing owls at the course is very limited.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by NatureLover
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Sigh. I'm out at Shoreline all the time and always try and catch a mere glimpse of these wonderful, ecologically vital birds. It makes me so sad that anyone would treat any animal - whether they thought they were killing gophers, ground squirrels, or spiders - this way.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Scientist
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 6:07 pm

@Shoreline Golfer
"The course was there before the owls."

Less golf, more books.


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Posted by Shoreline Golfer
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:02 pm

@Scientist

The environment before the course was built was high grass and not conducive for owl habitat. No nests were destroyed during the construction and the owls moved into the course after it was built.


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Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:11 pm

If you take it with you, then you need to bring it back. The Seed and Sand bottle should have numbers placed on them, each golf cart should have a holder for the bottle(s). While wildlife can live near humans, we us humans need to be watchful, even placing a bottle on the ground cause great harm.

Get rid of the Cats.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rachel
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm

So sad to hear about this. I am glad that there is now video surveillance, and hopefully an awareness among the golfers will prevent this from even occurring again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Joel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:55 pm

It's hard to imagine any owls left out there.
The city runs heavy equipment all over out there daily, especially by the kite area.
They dump dirt and rubble, level it and then move on to another area and do the same thing.
Totally clueless, uncaring and irresponsible.
So what is to be expected?
City doesnt care, Shoreline doesnt care, golf course doesnt care.
But the geese keep multiplying. This last spring each "pair" gave birth to 3-9 and more babies and nothing is done about the mess and pollution where we and our children play.
Good job again Moutain View government.


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Posted by Sarah
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 10, 2014 at 7:56 pm

So very very sad.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robin
a resident of another community
on Jun 10, 2014 at 8:00 pm

This is obscene. Every golfer should have to go through a basic information session on owls before they are let out to play.


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Posted by Scientist
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:38 am

Shoreline golfer, you are incorrect. I've been watching the owls out here since the early 80's. The course was barely a thought back then and the area was in fact not all high grass, there was much low grass and barren ground. I have a lot of pictures of the area from back then.
FORE!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jim
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:16 am

As Joel says, the city does more damage with its heavy equipment. I used to walk there and regularly see 3 owls at their burrows near the Permanente Creek Trail just north of Amphitheatre Pkwy. They were there for a year or more, until the city dug up and plowed both burrows under. I haven't seen the owls since.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by So?
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:57 am

A more flagrant act does not minimize the originally idiotic maneuver.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by So Outraged
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 11, 2014 at 11:48 am

So if this happened in March, other than put up a camera to view killing of another owl, what is the Parks and Recreation Department doing to keep this from happening again? We have spent a ton of money to keep the owls protected at Shoreline, pitty to see it all wasted because city staff can't figure out a way to hold people accountable or develop procedures that prevent things like this from happening. Touchstone runs golf for the city, wastes hundreds of thousands on water (see this weeks City Council Agenda)that floods the golf course and can't protect the owls. Get rid of em'.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Housing
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

So now that the owls are gone, can we get some low cost housing over there already?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by fidel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2014 at 3:11 pm

What if this was a mistake? Is that possible? What is with all the rancor? Burrowing owls are a species of concern, not endangered. I'm really sorry that they died this way, because I imagine (anthropomorphizing I realize) they must have been really panicked. Really sad.

With that said, Mary's comment above: I know many MV children will be heartbroken to hear of this story.

Really? Why is everything about damned kids - how about "many people?" I'm an adult and I'm saddened by this. The "for the children" crap gets really old. And how are cats getting into this story? How many burrowing owls have they killed? Really odd how the agendas rear their ugly heads when a single sad story appears.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I Wonder
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:12 pm

Things don't add up here. Burrowing owl pairs only go into the same burrow on very rare occasions. Doesn't the male stand guard outside the burrow and fly away when approached? I bet one was killed and shoved into the burrow with the other then plugged up to cover tracks. How could the golf guys not notice that a bottle was missing from a cart when it was turned in? I have seen the golf guys letting that dog they have run around near the owls. It was probably some staff guy who hates all birds, kills coots and geese, golfers are to busy to go out of their way to do this.


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Posted by fidel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Re: all the comments about endangered, threatened, etc. please read the following, from Bob Power, who resigned from the Audubon Society January 2014. The original letter was related to a young burrowing ground owl seen at the San Jose Airport 2013.

The histrionics here need to be balanced with empirically based data:

Dear X,

Thank you for your report. One of the healthiest and largest populations of Burrowing Owls in the county thrives at the San Jose Airport. Unless the bird is lying on its side on the ground or walking around with an obvious broken wing or other injury, there is no need to give this owl more thought. Once the breeding season ends in August, both the adults and the juveniles disperse for the winter and forage wherever they find a good location with food and shelter. I haven't read anything in your account that causes concern and it sounds like a healthy wintering owl at the airport.

This email was cc:d
scvas@scvas.org
programs@scvas.org
shani@scvas.org

And yet, they'd have you believe this is patently untrue. No wonder Bob left his position. I love birds and all wildlife, but get so sick of the mental meanderings of people who spout inaccurate data looking to get rid of some other animal (in this case, a golfer who perhaps made an error; but next week it will be cats, and the week after that red foxes). Jesus.


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Posted by Neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Follow the money. Who, or what entity has the most to gain by the elimination of the owls? The golf course would not benefit from this dastardly deed. . What a shame.Follow the money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Meow
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 11, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Threatened species, yet still the nonsense continues...

Web Link


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Posted by Train the golfers to behave
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:08 am

I'm pretty sure this was a stupid accident. I don't think the golfer plugged the hole to kill owls. I do think the golfer was a lazy jerk who thought it easier to just "stuff this plastic bottle in a hole because I'm tired of it"
Are golfers out killing owls? No. Are golfers out there littering and otherwise showing a general disrespect for the area? At least one was, and I'd bet more are in other ways not publicized.

I would like to see the golfers get a mandatory 5 minute "Training" prior to teeing off on how to behave properly in a sensitive area. It has been proven that it is needed for some.


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Posted by Train the golfers to behave
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:10 am

OK, actually, this golfer was in fact out killing owls, but I meant intentionally killing them.


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Posted by Local
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

I certainly don't know who was responsible for the incident. But when innocent little animals, of a kind with high profile locally, are callously killed like this and the implement is associated with golfing activity, it inevitably reflects on the golfers and the course, in the eyes of the larger community. Evasive, rationalizing, factually garbled comments such as "Shoreline Golfer" posted don't help that situation one little bit.

This is an opportunity for the course and the golfing community to take pro-active measures against such outrages. Otherwise this memorable episode could loom politically large at some future date when local gov't has dealings with the golf course.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 10:21 am

This is a tragedy. Especially to those here who know for a fact that everywhere they have lived, every spot they have worked, and every thing they have bought, consumed, used, or produced has never had a single effect on any other living thing


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Posted by Eric Rosenberg
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 11:10 am

This is a tradgedy and very stupid. The people responsible were thinking only of themselves and not the larger community. Were they afraid they may have to take a penalty strike if the ball when down the burrow? Don't like wildlife? In either case it is just stupidity.


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Posted by So?
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:03 pm

Minimizing an act does not make it right. Other people doing similar acts daily does not make it right. My doing something wrong does not in any way affect the correctness or incorrectness of another person's behavior.


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Posted by Shoreline Golfer
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Still a lot of golf haters and unfounded accusations. As stated in a PA paper, the cities publicity officer does not know who put the plastic bottle in the hole and it may have rolled there accidentally. So for what its worth, maybe there are some conspiracy people out there who think it was the Audubon society in an attempt to close down the golf course. That has about as much chance of being true as believing it was a golfer.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 1:08 pm

Amazing that some of the people here have never seen folded up paper, lolipop sticks...popsicle sticks, cigararettes, straws, gum/candy wrappers, etc stuffed into a crack in ...well, anything.

Or have never seen trash thrown in a bucket/box/can/flowerpot... walk down castro street and you can see trash thrown in newspaper machines, pay phones, those tiny utility alleyways, those big concrete planters...

not everything is a conspiracy.


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Posted by Shonda Ranson
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Since this article ran, we've had an increase in people showing up around the habitats, trying to take photos. While the intention is innocent, the extra traffic, noise and disturbance causes a lot of stress for the burrowing owl families. We are asking residents to help spread the word to just let the owls recover in peace so that their chicks may thrive and make it to adulthood.

If you are in the Shoreline area and you see people out around the habitats, we ask that you report it immediately to a park ranger or at the Golf Pro shop, where they can call the rangers. And just a reminder that there is a legal 250 foot buffer zone that, if violated, may lead to hefty fines and possibly jail time. There's no photo worth that.

Thank you for your help.

-Shonda Ranson
Communications Coordinator
City of Mountain View


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Posted by katherine
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:08 pm

There used to be many pairs of breeding burrowing owls. Now we're down to 2. ... and there are several proposals to continue building on the land they need for foraging.

@Shoreline Golfer: please prove your statement that the golf course was there before the owls. I believe this to be false. Just because the area surrounding the course now has high growing Slender Wild Oats does not mean the non-native grasses were there before the golf course. Wild Oats have overtaken many acres of land here in the last two decades.

This is yet another example of why we should NOT build housing close to wildlife. Yes, we need more housing. So build it along traffic corridors, not along a shoreline. There is so little land left for the mating pairs to forage on, let alone raise their chicks. Leave some room for other species.


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Posted by Shoreline duffer
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Jun 12, 2014 at 5:35 pm

@ katherine,

@Shoreline Golfer: please prove your statement that the golf course was there before the owls. I believe this to be false.

The owls are attracted to the golf course because of extremely low grass, which allows them to better see predators when they are nesting and they like sand traps because they are easier to burrow. There were certainly owls in the shoreline area before the course was built but not were the course was located because it consisted mostly of high grass. The owls may have hunted there a but did not nest there. Go to the 11th and 12 holes and you will see the environment where they hunt but do not live.


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Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:32 pm

"This is yet another example of why we should NOT build housing close to wildlife."

Congratulations on being the only one on earth who lives in housing that did not displace wildlife.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jun 12, 2014 at 6:36 pm

"Since this article ran, we've had an increase in people showing up around the habitats, trying to take photos. While the intention is innocent, the extra traffic, noise and disturbance causes a lot of stress for the burrowing owl families."


Sounds like when the SJ Mercury ran a story about the old Stanford carriage house being the only remaining piece of the Stanford mansion. After that, people expecting the King's Stables or a 40' high steeple on a Grant Wood painting come to life scene would drive down the access road disturbing both the Ronald McDonald House and the medical center for a retirement home.

All to see a plain, but repainted 1 story garage that looked like every other detached garage in every other yard of every other teardown/rebuild in Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DC
a resident of North Whisman
on Jun 14, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Owls migrate, golf courses do not. I think the owl moved to the area because of the potential food supply especially compared to 100 acres of open bay area. Just like why the geese are there.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Burrowing Owl
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2014 at 6:41 am

We do not migrate. We locate where we have the best chance of nesting and hunting. We love the golf course and the golfers. A rumor in our community is that it was a Google worker that placed the plastic bottle in the hole to protest the council not providing housing out at shoreline. Some of us spotted a Google bicycle in the area.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Um, no.
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 16, 2014 at 9:43 am

"Owls migrate, golf courses do not. I think the owl moved to the area because"
OK it is PRETTY well known by most that owls do not in fact migrate...not a good way to preface your theory on the matter.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda Curtis
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 17, 2014 at 6:59 pm

@Katherine:

"Yes, we need more housing. So build it along traffic corridors, not along a shoreline."

Why, YES: We do need more housing. But don't build it along unhealthy (exhaust fumes & noise) TRAFFIC CORRIDORS. Literally that just stinks. Focus on "near traffic corridors" to make better housing in which people can actually open a window to feel a breeze, rather than run their HVAC 24/7!

And, do not ruin the shoreline with it. (That was supposed to always remain a park for the wildlife and for everyone to enjoy it and the wildlife.) Nothing should be build there. Leave it alone and let's all continue to enjoy it! I love those beautiful, delicate, little owls, and the other species and natural lay of the land there.

SO: Build housing instead of more offices to not throw the housing/jobs balance further out of balance.

Like at Phase II of San Antonio: Two 6 story office buildings in planning mode should be apartments instead! (Tell the EPC this tomorrow night at City Hall at 7 PM.)

The Century Cinema 16 complex should have an apartment building added instead of the office tower planned!

And Mayfield should have been housing but became yet more offices instead!

Speak out against this poor planning!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stephanie
a resident of another community
on Jun 18, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society (SCVAS) has been working to restore dwindling Burrowing Owl populations in the South Bay for several years. A loss of two Burrowing Owls is truly a tragedy, and a setback to their local population. The Burrowing Owl is in threat of extirpation from the Bay Area if populations cannot be recovered, it is our hope that through advocacy efforts, continued public education, and awareness of the perils these owls face, that crimes such as this will be prevented in the future.
Stephanie Ellis
Executive Director
Santa Clara Valley Audubon


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