NewsPinellas County


Birds of Prey in need of donations amid to financial fallout from COVID-19

Posted at 8:44 PM, Jun 17, 2020

LARGO, Fla. -- The Birds of Prey exhibit in Largo's McGough Nature Park is open to the public.

The exhibit features 22 raptors including owls, hawks and a bald eagle.

Barry Taylor, a board member with Friends of Largo Parks, said the nonprofit organization took a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

They rely on donations to take care of the birds.

It costs about $1,500 a month to feed the birds and maintain the exhibits. Donation boxes can be found around the property.

"On the weekdays, you can wander through this whole area and see all the bird enclosures," said Barry Taylor.

Staff stopped public feedings because they draw a large crowd, but people can still see the birds in their exhibits.

People may also visit the Nature Center which is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.

"We're limiting it to 10 people at a time. It's open from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays," said Taylor.

Debbie Burns, a senior raptor handler, retired as a school teacher and now helps take care of the birds.

"If you would have told me 10 years ago that I'd be handling an owl and an eagle, I'd say yeah right," said Burns.

Taylor said usually they would take the birds to events, but that has stopped because of the pandemic.

Taylor said the land is owned by the city of Largo so donations go directly to help care for the animals.

"We don't pay any rent. The facilities are provided. We just take care of the birds. We take care of the food, take care of the cleaning," said Taylor.

Admission is free to the Birds of Prey exhibit, but donations are appreciated.

"Anything concerning nature has to be good for us all right now. Just to get away and regroup and recenter yourself and this is the perfect place to do it. Take a look at the birds, drop a few bucks. We don't charge anything to come here or see anything. Drop a few bucks, anything will help," said Burns.

The George C. McGough Nature Park is located at 11901 146th Street North in Largo.

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