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Burrowing Owl Festival is Saturday

By Staff | Feb 27, 2020

This Saturday, the 18th annual Burrowing Owl Festival Wildlife and Environmental Exposition takes place at Rotary Park from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. presented by the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife and Cape Coral Parks and Recreation.

Animal and nature lovers can enjoy a day of learning and viewing live Florida wildlife, tour the butterfly house, view more than 30 exhibits, listen to wildlife presentations, environmental speakers and much more.

“What better place to be than at the beautiful city of Cape Coral Environmental Park learning and sharing ideas about how to protect and preserve our environment,” said Pascha Donaldson, vice president of the Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife. “There are many challenges now and in the future to overcome with the population growth in Florida.”

New this year is a Burrowing Owl Exhibit with detailed information signage, videos and dioramas.

“The new exhibit will have a display of what an actual burrow looks like under ground,” Donaldson said. “You will learn how to do starter burrows. Also, lots of information will be posted about what CCFW does to protect not just burrowing owls but other endangered species. We hope to get more volunteers involved in these efforts.”

Guided owl bus tours and photographers bus tours will be offered free of charge.

There also will be free Flora and Fauna park tours, as well as students environmental projects, kids crafts and tasty food and treats.

“This is a great family event because it educates all ages,” Donaldson said. “The wildlife, the environment, water issues and on hands learning. Kids spend way too much time indoors — this is a chance to show kids that nature is all around them and not to take it for granted. Look up to see eagles, look down to see burrowing owls or gopher tortoises and look in the water for manatees and dolphins. We are lucky in Cape Coral to have it all and these things need to be protected.”

This year, featured speaker David H. Johnson of the Global Owl Project will be on hand to discuss their current project: a 12-year demographic study of the burrowing owl taking place from 2010-2022.

“Johnson is the expert with 40 years of studying owls around the world and was gracious enough to say yes when asked to come to our festival,” Donaldson said. “He has studied burrowing owls for the past 10-plus years out west and in other countries.’

Be on the lookout for Cape Coral’s newest burrowing owl mascot: Athene. The name comes from the burrowing owl’s binomial name: Athene cunicularia.

In previous festivals organizers had presentations inside the Rotary Park Environmental Center. This upcoming festival will be expanding with an outdoor auditorium to provide more presentations opportunities.

Adams Animal Encounters will be on hand to show attendees various reptiles, amphibians and alligators.

Organizers ask for a $5 parking donation that will go toward the CCFW to support their mission of protecting Southwest Florida Wildlife.

“This is a chance for residents to learn to appreciate the beauty of nature not just in Cape Coral, but all of Southwest Florida,” Donaldson said. “Learning about native gardening that supports the local wildlife is important to maintain the ecosystems — how new development and nature can exist together. Habitats need to be protected in order to maintain a quality of life that all move here from up north. Southwest Florida is unique and new residents need to have an understanding of how important open space is to maintaining our clean water.”

Rotary Park Environmental Center is at 5505 Rose Garden Road.

For more information, visit www.ccfriendsofwildlife.org .

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj