Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to spend a day at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey here in Central Florida — always a wonderful experience. The center treats, and releases back to the wild whenever possible, injured and orphaned birds of prey — eagles, owls, falcons and hawks, among others.
This particular day was even more wonderful because I participated with other Disney VoluntEARS, and staff and volunteers from the Audubon Center, in an Audubon TogetherGreen event. Our goal: give the center’s Magic of Flight barn a refresh. Disney sponsored the building of the flight barn in 2001 and has been an ongoing supporter of the center.
We spent the day helping with tasks ranging from roof repair, pressure cleaning, replacement of food boards and prey boxes, and re-wrapping the very large perches that are in the enclosures. Walt Disney World Community Relations also donated a new pressure washer and sliding ladder, and Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives donated animal care equipment.
Over the years, the flight barn, with its enormous size, has helped thousands of birds build up their strength and stamina — literally try out their wings — in preparation for returning to their natural habitats. Getting that flight time enables eagles and other birds to return to the wild sooner, giving the center more room to treat even more injured birds.
The Audubon Center also is supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). In 2010, for example, the fund provided support to the Audubon EagleWatch program through its annual grants program. With more than 1,200 nesting pairs, Florida has one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the United States, excluding Alaska. Audubon EagleWatch helps in the conservation of bald eagles, gathering information about the eagles, active nest locations, and potential disturbances or threats to nesting activities, and educating the public and key stakeholders about threats to bald eagles with the goal of engaging them in eagle conservation. DWCF has provided funding to this program since 2004.
The next time you visit Florida, be sure to look up. You might see an eagle or other magnificent bird of prey in flight — perhaps even one whose life was saved thanks to the Audubon Center.