Celebrate the holidays with Bella and Luna

Punta Gorda, Florida was incorporated on December 7, 1887.  The first week in December of each year, Punta Gorda commemorates Founder’s Day with a week-long celebration including plenty of home-town revelry and this year is no exception.  Peace River Wildlife Center invites everyone to join us for our Founder’s Day event and Celebrate the Holidays with Bella and Luna this Saturday, December 3, 2016.

PRWC will be open our regular visiting hours of 11a.m. until 4p.m.  We invite everyone to tour our educational exhibits—birds that have been rehabilitated from their injuries, but are not able to be released back into the wild.

Bella is a great-horned owl that was raised at another facility and unintentionally habituated.  Upon being released, she did not understand that she had to use her hunting skills for anything other than decapitating stuffed animals.  She flew down to people in a residential neighborhood expecting them to feed her.  The terrified people alerted the wildlife center from which she had been released and they placed her with PRWC as an education bird.  She is now glove-trained and enjoys the attention of visitors.

Luna is a leucistic (a type of albinism) eastern screech owl.  He was found on the ground as a fledgling at CHEC (Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center.)  PRWC normally gets approximately 20 fledgling screech owls every year.  We renest them whenever possible and raise the others together, with the help of our permanent resident foster parent screech owls, and release them as soon as they are able to fend for themselves.  As tiny raptors, screech owls’ only defense against their many predators is camouflage.  Since Luna’s feathers are white instead of mottled brown, he cannot hide from predators and would not last long in the wild.  He is also a glove-trained bird that enjoys outreach events and being on display to the public.

Bella and Luna will be on hand Saturday to greet visitors and pose for photos.  We will also have some special guests—Santa and Mrs. Claus will be in attendance from noon until 4p.m. for photos for a small donation.

If you want to really get into the festive spirit, you can bring a gift for the animals.  Our current needs include:

Dry or canned dog and cat food


Paper towels

Fresh kale, squash, fruit (no citrus)

Gallon size zipper bags


And of course, we always need volunteers.  Our wonderful maintenance team starts off each day from 8-11a.m. cleaning every habitat.  Not only do the birds appreciate it, but the visitors always remark about how clean and neat the facility is.  We take pride in being the kind of place locals are proud to show off to their friends and families.

Winter is a busy season for us at PRWC.  We host hundreds of visitors every day.  Fielding phone calls about dozens of injured and orphaned wild animals, we can take in up to 20 patients a day.  November and December are a brief respite in breeding season for most of our target species.  Doves are the only birds that are still breeding now.

The songbirds have fledged their young that hatched during the spring and summer.  The raptors are getting ready to start their breeding season.  The larger ones, bald eagles and great-horned owls will begin nest selection in December.  While our patient load is lower in the hospital, this is an ideal time to catch up on physical exams of our residents without disturbing them during critical breeding or migrating seasons.  Even though they are in captivity now and not actively participating in these events, they often still get more restless during those natural cycles.

We do see an increase in injured patients as the populations of both people and birds in the area swells during migration.  This week we have taken in a Virginia opossum with an abscessed cheek, two red-shouldered hawks with head and spinal trauma, and a few turtles and tortoises that have been hit by cars.   And we are still getting in baby rats, squirrels, and rabbits (they never know when to say when!)

Come visit Luna and Bella and the rest of the PRWC residents and help us celebrate Punta Gorda.  It is a wonderful little town and we are happy you found us!

by- Robin Jenkins, DVM