The First Planting
For the first planting, I asked everyone who came to Wobble Bauble to help save the burrowing owls. I scheduled two meetings where I showed them this slide deck introducing the project and I scheduled two planting sessions for them to plant their pick of plants at Burrowing Owls Billows.
My hypothesis was that those volunteering would appreciate the opportunity to choose and name their plants. Afterwards, they told me they didn't care for it, but I still found it significant how they named their plants. My mom and manager named their plants after their children. I named my plants after my (ex) parrots.
The men tended to come up with sillier names.
Because Burrowing Owl Billows had been filled with soil removed from construction sites, it contained dormant invasive non-native seeds. Non-native plants compete with native plants for resources. The native plants better benefit the burrowing owls by providing food and shelter to the burrowing owls' preferred diet: bugs and small rodents. More bugs and small rodents means more owls.
To protect our California native plants, we started regularly pulling the "weeds."
We quickly discovered pulling weeds in rock-hard soil is nigh impossible so we learned, moving forward, to schedule weedings when the ground is still wet from the seasonal rains.
The first owl we counted in Burrowing Owl Billows was on August 3rd, 2017.
While there were no burrowing owls at Burrowing Owl Billows until then, Phil monitored these burrowing owls in Shoreline Park.
Here you can see a red-tailed hawk hunting the burrowing owls in Shoreline Park at the entrance of their burrow.
Fortunately, it didn't get them this time.
In order to provide the project with an objective analysis of our progression, Phil and I started seasonally counting the number and type of insects we'd find at Burrowing Owl Billows and adjacent land.
Phil involved the summer youth corp in maintaining Burrowing Owl Billows. My favorite part of the project quickly became seeing the plants we planted bloom.
Some of the plants we planted didn't make it. I checked the soil to make sure that it wasn't what was killing them.
While it had some alkaline, it wasn't cause for concern. Many of the plants we planted at Burrowing Owl Billows thrive in alkaline soil, like the California sagebrush.