Madison Strang of Lithia, right, poses for a photo with Matilda, a 6-year-old rescued barred owl, during the Raptor Fest Saturday, February 6 at Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg. Matilda was brought to the festival by Debbie Burns, left, a volunteer from the Narrows Environmental Education Center in Largo. Madison and her mother traveled for more than an hour to the festival to see the raptors. “I’ve just always loved birds,” Madison said. Her mother, Sandy Cooper, described how the family had rescued an injured horned owl that fell into their swimming pool about six months ago and turned it over to a wildlife rehabilitator.
Despite the cold, rainy weather, hundreds of people turned out for Saturday’s event, which featured numerous other rescued raptors brought by rehabilitators as well as Boyd Hill’s permanent avian residents, all of which have been injured in one way or another and are unable to survive on their own. There were also activities for children and their families, bird-flight demonstrations, crafts, music and food.