The protagonist is Roy Eberhardt whose journey towards manhood is the main subject of the novel. He faces the conflict of change in his life which he is not ready for as well as the plight of the Burrow Owls. He has to find a way to balance his head with his heart and make the right choices.
The antagonists include Dana Matherson, the bully who picks on Roy and yet teaches him a lot about himself; adults who lie and behave in corrupt ways; Mullet Fingers who resists Roy’s help; and Roy himself who must learn how to adapt and change as part of his growth.
The climax of the story occurs when Roy, Beatrice, and Mullet Fingers, along with many of the students at Trace Middle School, stand up to the executives of Mother Paula’s Pancake House to protect the Burrow Owls.
After the truth is revealed about the Pancake House’s intent to build within the environment of the owls, the company is forced to back off, and the owls are saved. Also, Mullet Fingers is able to return to his life in the wilderness while Roy comes to accept his life in Florida as being as acceptable as life in Montana had been.
A young boy named Roy Eberhardt moves to Coconut Cove, Florida where he takes on the burden of helping to save the burrowing owls by stopping the planned construction on the piece of land where they live. Not only does he do so, but he makes friends, helps those friends exposes the dishonesty of the companies involved and their disregard for the environment. Through this, he becomes a mature young man.