Each year in February, thousands of people come to Rotary Park in Cape Coral to honor the beloved city bird, the Burrowing Owl. February is officially the start of nesting season for these pint sized birds and there is no better time to learn about our famous owls.
It is estimated that there are 1000 nesting pair of Burrowing Owls in Cape Coral, making it the largest population of the Burrowing Owl in the state. Weighing in at 6 ounces and only 10 inches tall, these tiny birds with huge yellow eyes have captured the hearts of not only Cape Coral residents, but visitors from all over the world. The festival is organized by Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife (CCFW) and Cape Coral Parks and Recreation, and will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2013 at Rotary Park in SW Cape Coral.
Popular activities at the festival are the narrated van tours to see the Burrowing Owls in their natural habitat, and the lecture series by wildlife photographer Dan Tudor, local author Charles Sobczak, and others. Another wildly popular activity is a tour of the Tom Allen Memorial Butterfly House located on the grounds of Rotary Park. Visitors to the festival will be given the opportunity to see the fascinating life cycle of several species of native butterflies, learn how to start their own butterfly garden, and have the opportunity to purchase butterfly friendly plants to help start their own garden. Plans are currently underway to construct a larger butterfly house to accommodate more butterflies and more visitors and should be open for visitors at the festival.
Eco-friendly organizations will be on hand to answer questions and provide free information on nature related topics.
Local artisans will have a great variety of nature related goods for sale. Beautiful photography, paintings, jewelry, pottery and clothing are just a few of the items that will be available to purchase. A children’s corner will have arts and crafts and plenty of other activities for the little ones.
The goal of Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife has always been to educate the public on the importance of protecting the Burrowing Owl. To this end, CCFW is teaching homeowners how to install starter burrows on their properties to help attract the owls and provide them with much needed habitat. For those people who would enjoy actually helping the Burrowing Owls, training is provided on how to properly maintain burrows in their neighborhoods.
Providing habitat and care of existing habitat is critical to the long term survival of this species of special concern. Loss of the Burrowing Owl in Cape Coral would have a devastating effect on the population in the rest of Florida, so preservation is critical.
The festival will be held on Saturday, February 23, 2013, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Rotary Park, 5505 Rose Garden Road, Cape Coral, FL. The $5.00 entrance fee for adults and free admission for children under 16 makes this one day event a cost effective activity for the budget conscious family. For additional information, call CCFW at 239-980-2593 or visit their website at www.ccfriendsofwildlife.org.
by Beverly Saltonstall