The event collected donations and educated the community about local birds of prey.
There was cuteness overload at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey this weekend.
The center in Maitland hosted its annual Baby Owl Shower on Saturday, May 12, and accepted donations to help take care of its tiniest winged residents while giving visitors a closer look at baby owls.
Admission to the event was free with a donation from the center’s baby shower wish list, which includes powdered laundry detergent, 20 pound bags of pine shavings/bedding, Gerber all meat baby food (turkey or chicken), and other useful supplies that allow staff and volunteers to look after the feathered patients.
The event plays a crucial role in supplying the clinic and sanctuary with everything it needs over the next year, Education Manager Laura VonMutius said.
“We don’t get any state funding; it’s all from donors and grants,” she said. “We understand that not everybody has a ton of money to give us and that’s fine, so this is a great way for people to help support us in the way that they can.”
VonMutius said the shower started as a celebration of all the baby birds that come into the clinic and moms in general — it’s always the day before Mother’s Day. Over the years, the shower has turned into a community event and a fundraiser. Games and activities are set up for the children, and families will be able to see non-releasable baby owls and glove-trained birds. At this year’s shower, children were given a passport and have a chance to visit various passport stations with educational, bird-related activities. Once the activity is completed the child gets a stamp, and they can fill out the whole passport with stamps to get a prize.
Events such as the shower offer a small glimpse into what the center does to rehabilitate injured raptors, which includes birds like owls, eagles, hawks, vultures and falcons.
The center first opened its doors in 1979, after an Audubon Florida employee named Doris Mager started doing raptor rehab out of her home. She worked with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Audubon to raise the funds to open the center by climbing 50 feet into an unoccupied eagles nest and living there for an entire week. The event received national news coverage, and Mager was able to raise enough money to open the center.
Beyond the fun games and the cute baby owls, the center hopes to teach people more about the birds that are brought to the center for rehabilitation.
“Our goal is to have them learn about the birds that live here and the center in hopes that they’ll come back on a more regular basis and spread the word about the work we do here,” VonMutius said. “Baby animals are just the cutest, so why not come and see them?”