Wednesday - November 18th, 2020


The Sixth Planting at Burrowing Owl Billows went swimmingly! We got (almost) 121 plants into the ground with only 5 of us (plus Phil and Ryan, biologist government employees)! WAT!

The only reason we couldn't get all 121 plants in is because the water main broke, so not all of the ground had been soaked: it was not soft enough for us to dig holes for all the plants. Phil's team is finishing the rest of the planting this week though. Not only did we finish planting just in time for the rain, but also right before our governor announced our county would become too restricted to allow for any more volunteering this season, so the December planting is cancelled!

However, you can still help the owls, and I've got great incentives for you to do so!

If you donate $100 to my organization that's funding this project to save the burrowing owls, you will get this owl rock!

These 3 are ready to go to their new homes! First come, first serve! Each rock is completely unique, hand-painted by muah (me), and coated with an enamel that makes him or her durable for years of life in the outdoors, or indoors, whichever you choose! They belong in your garden as part of your decor or on your desk as a paperweight that you can hold when you need to cool your palms down after that intense work-meeting where no one listened to you, again!

They are not just a rock painted to look like a burrowing owl, oh noooo, they also have more on their backs! The link howtopaintrocksto.savetheburrowingowl.org connects to the Youtube video I made that teaches you how to paint rocks like these. Your result, from only following the process once, may turn out something like this:

My dad's is on the left. My mom's is on the right. It's a fun bonding activity to do with your friends and family that gives you something you can hold, builds a skill you can't lose, and creates a connection you can share... forever!

The hashtag on the back will show you all the other rocks myself or others who've followed this tutorial created. Both the video tutorial and the hashtag will keep updating as my project to save the burrowing owls continues! How cool is that?!

And that's not all! I have also left a space above the link so you can write your own message with a Sharpie if you'd like to give this rock to someone special as a gift!


Here's how to get one (or more):

  • If you're not a Googler, you can donate to my project through Paypal here.

  • Cash is fine too, if we arrange to exchange in person.

  • If you're a Googler, you can donate to my project here. To get a $100 rock, you only need to donate $50, and Google will match you with the other $50. Google is now matching up to $10k of your donations, so if you wanna get a bunch of rad rocks for all your friends and family while also saving the burrowing owls, let me know!

  • I've also heard you'll have until Nov. 20th (this Friday) to choose an organization to donate $400 to as your Holiday Gift. If you choose my org, I will paint you a special RAINBOW burrowing owl rock!

  • If you'd still like to help the owls, but don't want or can't afford a rock, I've got these sick stickers for only $5 that I will mail to you!

  • Most importantly, if you donate, please email me that you did so, how much, and what your address is that I should deliver your owl (rock or sticker) to!

  • As long as you're in Mountain View, I will deliver rocks to you, otherwise, you can pick them up from me (I live near downtown Castro).

Coo coo!

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Tuesday - November 3, 2020

To all my Bay Area locals--

Our next planting is scheduled for:

Monday, November 16th, 8am-Noon

at Burrowing Owl Billows, next to the Kite Lot in Shoreline Park (this is where you can park).

If you haven't been to a planting before, and even if you have, because there are a few changes due to COVID, it goes something like this:

  • You wear sun protection (sun screen + hat), wear close-toed shoes and pants that cover your legs (to avoid scratching yourself on the prickly weeds), and bring a water bottle (and eat a hearty breakfast for energy).

  • What's different at this planting is that, even though we'll be spread out 6'+ outdoors, you're REQUIRED to wear a mask. You will also need to bring your own gardening gloves, as it's not safe to share gloves anymore either.

  • Shovels and other tools for planting, spreading mulch, and weeding will be provided and safe to share since everyone will be wearing their own gloves.

  • We will be planting 80 California Natives at this session because we are limited to only 6 volunteers, so only sign up if you can make it the entire duration and are confident you can, as bailing would mean more work for the rest of us and that you took someone's spot who may have been able to make it otherwise. Kids 12 years and older are allowed and encouraged to come as long as they're accompanied by a guardian. They also count towards the limit of how many volunteers we'll be capped at.

  • We will also be weeding, spreading mulch, and watering. If you'd like to see what previous plantings have been like, check out the Stories of the Billows on the savetheburrowingowl.org website. However, I'm also editing together another Youtube video of last year's planting that I'm hoping to send you all ASAP before the planting.

Reply back to this email if you'd like to sign up! I'll sign folks up in the order they reply and any that spill over our 6 volunteer limit I'll ask if you can join the "Alternates" list in case anyone drops. I understand that emergencies can happen, especially if you're not feeling well, but please, PLEASE, only confirm you can make it if you really do believe you'll make it! πŸ’—

There will be another planting in December of (hopefully) the same size, but I need to fundraise enough money for it. Stay tuned for my next email about fundraising incentives! The more money I raise, the more plants we can plant and the more volunteers can help with the plantings, not only gaining the wholesome, grounding experience this activity provides, but also a newfound relationship with the owls and earth to understand and spread the word about what's happening to them and how we can all help! There are more burrowing owls this year than last year so things are looking up if we can keep it up!!! 🀟🏽

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Thursday - October 15, 2020


I hope you've been managing as best as possible during our COVID-crisis. Personally, I've become incredibly productive and finally have another video to share with you! This one is:

How to Paint Rocks to Save the Burrowing Owl

Enjoy! If you or your kids paint and put out burrowing owl rocks in the South Bay area, you will get a special surprise visit from... The Messenger!

And now... onto the owls themselves!

How did the owls do this year at Shoreline Park?

We have exceptionally good news to share about the burrowing owls this year! Last year, in Shoreline Park, there was only 1 pair of adult owls with a brood of 5 chicks, but this year, there were 8 pairs of adult owls. Several had broods of ~5 chicks and the returning pair from last year had 2 broods! This is rare for burrowing owls. This pair had 3 chicks for their first brood and 1 chick for their second. In total, there was a historical record of 35 chicks produced at Shoreline this summer! Specifically at Burrowing Owl Billows, there were 3 pairs of adult owls, hoo had a total of 13 chicks.

This is the highest number of owls out of any of the burrowing owl habitats in all of the South Bay Area. In comparison, Alviso had only 6 adult owls, Moffet had 4, and San Jose Airport had 9.

Why did the owls do so well this year at Shoreline Park?

Apart from the COVID-19-related shutdowns, which caused less disturbances to the owls, Phil Higgins's team kept some of the juveniles (13) from last year's breeding season over the winter and released them as adults in Shoreline Park in March. This helped them survive because juveniles have a 70% mortality rate in the wild. They then analyzed the DNA samples of the adult owls they released to create genetically diverse pairs, which they then put under outdoor aviaries with artificial burrows in Shoreline Park to protect them during the breeding season. They also had 3 wild pairs show up, so they assisted them too! After the pairs produced clutches of eggs, they removed the aviaries. Burrowing owls have a tendency to return to where they were raised or captured, but these owls chose to stay, even after the aviaries were removed! Phil's team also supplemented their diet with mice (14 mice per week, 1 per adult per day). Between this and the increased bug population from our plantings at Burrowing Owl Billows, the burrowing owls' population did better than it ever had before in Shoreline Park!

Here are photos of the owls and their chicks at Burrowing Owl Billows from this last breeding season!

There is some odd Lion King-esque scene happening here between the owls and this ground squirrel. Ha ha!:

And here are the plants, looking oh-so-lush, at Burrowing Owl Billows:

I'm meeting Phil next week to collect a data sampling of the plants and bug populations at Burrowing Owl Billows as well as to discuss our next planting for the fall season! Stay tuned for the next volunteer opportunity to plant plants!

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Monday - June 1, 2020

The burrowing owl chicks at the San Diego Zoo are growing FAST! I created this summary using screenshots and a video I took to document their creation and growth through spring:

Comparatively, here is a comic I illustrated on how the burrowing owl chicks in Burrowing Owl Billows at Shoreline Park, Mountain View, CA did two years ago:

Comparing the way the owl chicks at the zoo behave to the way the owls in the wild at Angela Farm and in San Diego county behave, the most important observation I've made is that the chicks in the wild will stick together, near the burrow entrance throughout the entire spring and summer, watching their parents fly, hunt, and interact from afar. There are many times they will run back into their burrows to evade predators. The chicks in captivity have spread apart to corners of their, pretty small, enclosure. They watch their parents carefully, but only ever see their parents pick up dead rodents from the same area (A tray? A slot? It's off-camera). Their parents don't fly more than a dozen feet at most, never hunt for anything, and never sound any alarms that there are predators nearby or approaching. Trust me. I watch the webcam every day for ~an hour.

I can't imagine how successful this program could be at introducing chicks who'll survive to the same environments I've seen the wild owls in when they don't learn crucial survival skills during their formative years.

I'm no burrowing owl, but attempting to live in my van last summer is the closest to "living in the wild" I've ever come, and now I'm back living with my parents, who've never learned how to live in the wild, and, thus, never taught me. The situation seems all too similar... and both equally unsuccessful.

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how the owls at Burrowing Owl Billows fair by the end of this summer, when I will have access to footage biologist Phil Higgins and his team have taken of the owls there, who are growing up in a pseudo wild-captive environment.

Stay tuned and stay safe!

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Saturday - May 2, 2020

The burrowing owl chicks on the San Diego Zoo webcam just hatched! Check them out here.

When Momma moves you can see them all cluster together in a little bundle of fluff!

Here's Momma feeding them!

I hope you're staying safe and finding peace during our quarantine. πŸ™

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Tuesday - April 14, 2020

⭐️Great news!

There are now 8 eggs in the San Diego Zoo's burrowing owl nest! Burrowing owls can lay up to 12 per clutch so there might even be more on the way!

That's a lot of owl babies we're about to see. πŸ‘€

Tuesday - March 31, 2020

Good news!

The livecam for the burrowing owls in San Diego shows two eggs in their nest today! That means, at the end of next month, we'll see burrowing owl chicks! That's around the same time we'll see if the Bay Area's Stay-at-Home order will be lifted. Maybe we'll have two things to look forward to!

Here's mommy and daddy taking a break.

The two eggs! (Surrounded by flies...)

Here's mommy keeping the eggs warm! (I've seen her occasionally snack on a fly. πŸ˜‚)

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Monday - March 23, 2020

Happy Monday! β˜€οΈ

I hope you haven't been too restless under the lockdown, but maybe you're more empathetic to the animals we keep in cages now. Sometimes it's for their own good, and the good of their species--so is staying home for you, and for all of mankind.

This is a snapshot of the burrowing owls and their chicks at the San Diego zoo last year. You can check out the livestream of their owls today here. There are currently two.

Sick of playing games on your mobile phone that give you a false sense of productivity? Instead you can help biologists identify photos of the burrowing owls they're trying to save in San Diego.

You'll even get to see what the day-to-day life is like for the burrowing owls. Sometimes you're the first to see odd behaviors captured, like this one where this owl is trying to scare off something that's encroaching on its territory.

But how about our owls, you ask? Since I last updated you, I got permission to get photos and videos of our owls at Burrowing Owl Billows in Shoreline Park this season. Biologist Phil Higgins has set up trap-cameras to capture this footage and I'll be sharing it out after the season concludes.

Our project has also received recognition from the government, signed by the mayor! Check it out!

If you want to see more burrowing owls on the daily, I've created an Instagram page to share photos of burrowing owls and project updates. Check it out here. There is also a Facebook page you can follow here that has the same updates.

As for the next volunteer opportunity, we're going to have to see how this shelter-in-place order pans out for awhile, but I'll keep you updated!

Have a great week!

Aisha with an πŸ‘

Wednesday - January 29, 2020

Happy (Belated) New Year! πŸŽ‰

Yeah, yeah, I heard about what's going on with the owls in Florida. I'm sure the $5000-a-year allotted for their program to pay residents to house burrowing owls will help, but what do their overall stats look like?

That's not a rhetorical question, if you know, please share with me. I'd like to compare our programs. If we've learned anything from the US economy it's that competition works to achieve success.

After the Fifth Planting, here is how the stats for our program look:

It appears like the number of burrowing owls is increasing at Burrowing Owl Billows, but that's only because the territory we're now counting the owls in is the entire black-fenced area.

In the Fall of 2018 there were 16 burrowing owls in Shoreline Park.

In the Fall of 2019 there were only 10.

We are planting more plants, there are more bugs, and there are more volunteers helping, so the strategy is working, but the goal of the project is to increase the number of owls, so we need even more plants and volunteers.

We did get $3,350 from Googlers donating through Google's Giving Week!

Thank you! ⭐️ That is the largest donation in the shortest period of time the project has received yet!

I've added a new chapter to the website about the Fifth Planting. I did a lot of awareness-raising as a stiltwalking burrowing owl and we added 160 plants to Burrowing Owl Billows.

Now, I could really use your opinion on this project, as I'm not sure what the right answer is on my own.

Please, for the sake of the burrowing owls, answer this short, 2-question survey!

The next planting will be in the spring. I'll be in touch.

Aisha with an πŸ‘