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Burrowing Owl festival highlights Cape mascot

By Staff | Feb 19, 2010

The annual festival to honor Cape Coral’s resident burrowing owl is scheduled for next weekend.
The Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife and City of Cape Coral Parks and Recreation Department are hosting the eighth annual Burrowing Owl Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27. It will be hosted once again at Rotary Park off of El Dorado Parkway.
Even though there are more than 2,500 burrows citywide, and it’s common to see the owls in most neighborhoods, environmentalists continue organizing the annual festival to bring awareness to their presence and to stress the importance of preservation.
The festival not only includes nature tours, wildlife exhibitions and expert speakers, but it’s a major fund-raising event for the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, an entirely volunteer-based, non-profit organization that protects the owl species. Organizers are asking for a $4 donation from residents attending the event but children under 12 are free.
“It’s really how we make our money to get us through next year,” said Pascha Donaldson, president of the organization which purchases PVC pipe fittings to create owl perches next to burrows.
For the second year in a row the organization invited all Cape Coral students to participate in an art contest where they design pieces related to nature. Each school was asked to submit three entries and there will be cash prizes for the first, second and third place winners. The award ceremony is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.
“I am a retired teacher and I really promote getting kids involved and getting them recognition,” said Donaldson. “I want to continue with the art contest.”
Children who attend the festival can spend time making arts and crafts within the Kindness Children’s Corner sponsored by the Kindness Animal Hospital.
Another addition to the festival is a permanent butterfly tent. A temporary tent was set up last year for the festival, but the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife and Home Depot recently contributed funds and supplies to construct a facility for butterflies that will be open year round at Rotary Park.
Many of the speakers and exhibits from past years will attend the upcoming festival. Speakers include: Tom Allen, an expert on butterflies; Charlie Ewell, an expert on birds; Dan Tudor, a photographer who captures images of the burrowing owl and Keith Councell, who will discuss honey bees.
“Almost any local and not-so-local group that has anything to do with nature or the environment will be here,” said Katie Locklin, a recreation specialist with the city’s Park and Recreation Department.
Burrowing owl bus tours are scheduled for people who want to see a live burrowing owl in its natural habitat. The tours are scheduled for 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m., and officials recommend that people purchase their tickets as soon as they get to the festival because only 35 seats are available.
The Sarasota-based TLC for Wildlife will exhibit live animals that have grown used to people and crowds, and that can’t be returned to the wild. The Sierra Club, Shell Factory, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, the Caloosahatchee River Watch and North American Butterfly Association, to name a few, all will have exhibits at the festival.
For more information about the event or the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, visit www.ccfriendsofwildlife.org.