The deadline to submit names for the McGough Nature Park’s new owl is Sept. 16.
LARGO – The city of Largo is offering community residents the opportunity to sponsor an owl at the McGough Nature Park, which is home to Franklin, Matilda and a soon-to-be named new bird on the block.
“For $2, $4, or $10 you can sponsor the feeding of an owl for a day two days or a week,” wrote Greg Brown, Largo parks superintendent. “Much like the March of Dimes where a balloon is posted at stores, you can color and fill your name in an owl cut out and post it on the owl cage of you choice.”
Also under the program, which started this week, people can sponsor a snake, lizard, fish or toad.
Meanwhile, McGough Nature Park’s new horned great owl needs a name.
The city is asking the community to submit names for the owl, who has joined Franklin, a great horned owl; and Matilda, a barred owl.
Barbara Walker, a raptor specialist with the Clearwater Audubon Society, caught the latest park addition, another great horned owl, at the Fox Hollow Golf Course in New Port Richey May 6.
“I had broken a finger in a sliding glass door on May 4 so I had my whole hand splinted. She was sitting near the edge of one of the ponds at the Fox Hollow golf course. She was too weak to fly but she had enough energy to try making a run for it. I got up ahead of her with my towel and as I was about to throw the towel over her she turned and brought up her talons,” Walker wrote. “I took her feet with just my left hand. She is a big owl and had intimidated the guys at the course. One of my best and smoothest captures.”
The owl is blind in one eye and almost all the way in the other. She is described as sweet.
Clearwater Audubon has agreed to sponsor her food and has paid for the cage materials.
Because of the owl’s injury, she is no longer suited to live in the wild. She will remain in captivity at McGough and is considered a valuable resource for connecting the public with nature.
“When you are able to bring a live owl in to a teaching setting, it really reinforces the point of the lesson to the students,” said Kyle Vogel in a press release.
Vogel is a nature program specialist at the park. “This owl unfortunately lacks the sense of vision, but that allows us to demonstrate to students how her other senses help compensate for this loss.”
When they aren’t on display in the park, the three owls now living at McGough Nature Park are available to travel to birthday parties in the nature center and to schools for programs that help students learn about owls and other wild animals found in Florida.