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Ospreyfest promises to be a good time for a good cause

By Staff | Dec 14, 2011

Photo by CAROL ORR HARTMAN Dave Horton, a renowned cartoonist, is flabbergasted as he attempts to do an osprey cartoon based on the painting by Darryl Pottorf, now on exhibit at Bank of the Islands on Periwinkle Way. The Pottorf painting will be auctioned during the inaugural Osperyfest to benefit Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife CROW on Sanibel Island.

Osprey are superb fishers and indeed eat little else fish make up some 99 percent of their diet. Because of this appetite, these birds can be found near ponds, rivers, lakes and coastal waterways around the world.

Islanders may have noticed an increase in osprey activity on Sanibel and Captiva recently, as the large brown and white raptors prepare for their 2012 breeding season. These migratory birds typically exhibit courting and mating behavior during the month of December in Southwest Florida.

Ospreys, which are often confused with bald eagles, will generally lay three eggs,that both parents help to incubate. Local osprey begin brooding eggs in mid-January, so the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife will celebrate the official start of the breeding season with Ospreyfest.

“They are just fascinating birds because you can hear and see everything they do,” said Claudia Burns, co-chair of Ospreyfest and longtime CROW volunteer. “This event is designed to educate and entertain the guests about ospreys.”

Ospreyfest was born out of the successful osprey presentations at CROW’s visitors center. Guests of this event will enjoy the popular “Story of Ospreys,” presented by Burns, “Bird” Westall, founder of The International Osprey Foundation, and Dave Horton, illustrator of “Look Who’s Flying,” an educational coloring book about ospreys sponsored by the “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society.

“I hope we get the same response for this event as we have for the presentations,” noted Horton, who is also the creator of the wildly funny “Hortoons” seen in many locations on the islands.

Ospreyfest, sponsored by the Sanibel Captiva Trust Company with Bailey’s General Store as wine sponsors, will be celebrated at 4 p.m. Jan. 15 at Traditions on the Beach in Sanibel’s historic Island Inn on West Gulf Drive. Prior to the three-course sit-down dinner that will be created and served by Andrea Mucciga’s award-winning staff, Horton will entertain guests with impromptu drawings of osprey and there will be a silent auction of osprey-related items.

“Traditions is the ‘it’ restaurant right now and we are lucky to have Andrea back on the island,noted Burns and Ospreyfest co-chair Debbie Friedlund. “It will be a fabulous meal.”

Following dinner, an on-the-spot drawing and an original depiction of an osprey created for CROW by Darryl Pottorf will be offered to the highest bidder. If you would like to get a glimpse of Pottorf’s painting, visit Bank of the Islands on Periwinkle Way, where it is currently on exhibit in the lobby.

After the auction, Burns will present “The Story of Ospreyspunctuated with incredible lifelike osprey calls by “Bird.” Admission to Ospreyfest is $75 per person and limited to 175 celebrants. All proceeds from the event will go toward the care and feeding of wildlife patients at CROW, which operates one of the country’s leading wildlife rehabilitation facilities on its 12.5-acre campus.

Osprey are often confused with bald eagles. They are one of the most widespread birds of prey found across the globe, except Antarctica.

Its 4,800-square-foot hospital opened in 2009 and each year more than 4,000 sick, injured and orphaned wildlife patients receive care from CROW’s staff veterinarians, clinicians and volunteers. The hospital features spacious, state-of-the-art facilities that allow staff members and volunteers to care for animals efficiently and effectively.

“This event will be memorable,” said Friedlund, who has been a volunteer coordinator for The International Osprey Foundation for many years.

There is still time to become an Ospreyfest sponsor $100 (Hatchling), $200 (Nestling), $500 (Fledgling) and $1,000 (Fish Hawk). The Fledgling sponsorship includes tickets for two, while the Fish Hawk designation includes four tickets to the event.

For more information or to make your reservations, contact Friedlund at 472-6667 or by email at SanibelFL@hotmail.com.