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Learn about burrowing owls during next ‘Ding’ Darling Summer Family Film Series this Sunday

By Staff | Jul 15, 2015

Youngsters fighting to save a burrowing owl’s habitat, which is located on a construction site from being destroyed, will be featured Sunday, July 19, at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor & Education Center during the “Ding” Darling Summer Family Film Series.

“It’s inspiring for middle schoolers because you can made a difference,” Supervisory Refuge Ranger Toni Westland said of the message of “Hoot,” which was mostly filmed in Boca Grande.

The Carl Hiaasen’s novel “Hoot,” which was turned into a film baring the same name in 2006, includes “Ding’s” stuffed, mounted owl that is sitting on a burrow.

The film shares the story of Roy Eberhardt who moved to Florida from Montana and the friendship he shares with Beatrice and her brother. The siblings show Roy their hideaway, which is home to burrowing owls that they are secretly caring for. Once the trio learns that the nest will be turned into a restaurant, they seek help from a local policeman to save the burrowing owls.

The movie was chosen to be apart of the free film series, Westland said because burrowing owls are “endangered and needs our help.”

She said people travel from all over the country to see the burrowing owl, which mostly reside in Cape Coral.

“I send them to Cape Coral to see them,” Westland said of the only owl that can be found on the ground during the day.

The idea for the “Ding” Darling Summer Family Film Series stemmed from the successful adult documentary film series held during the winter. Westland said they decided to offer something for the kids during the summer months that would feature a movie about nature with a good message, all free of charge.

The first film, “The Lorax, was shown on June 7, followed by “Turtle: The Incredible Journey,” on June 21. “Wall-E” was featured earlier this month and the final movie of the series, “Finding Nemo,” will be shown on Aug. 2.

“People know Disney and Pixar and they are learning and enjoying at the same time,” Westland said.

Summer Teachers Assisting Refuges (STAR) Anji McStravic said the majority of people who have attended the film series so far this summer are not residents of the island. She said the free movie at the refuge offers a great place for people to escape the Florida heat in the middle of the day while learning about nature.

The inaugural “Ding” Darling Summer Family Film Series has attracted anywhere from 11 to 22 participants so far this summer.

“It makes (for) a nice intimate conversation about conservation,” McStravic said.

Before the film is shown, attendees make crafts related to the subject of the movie.

McStravic said the craft begins promptly at 2 p.m. and last for approximately 15 to 20 minutes before the film is shown. She said in addition to the craft, she also shares information about the film and why the message is important to everyone.

McStravic said participants will create an owl craft on July 19 during the crafts activity.

All ages are welcome to attend the craft activity and movie.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.