LARGO, Fla. - Hidden along the Pinellas Intracoastal, is Largo's George C. McGough Nature Park. Like most family-friendly parks this one has lots of things for the family to enjoy; it also has some hidden treasures.
They have the traditional playground, nature trails, and overlooks along the Intracoastal, but then there are surprises such as. A pond with more than 200 turtles and birds of prey program
"The birds are here under the Friends of Largo Nature Park," shared Debbie Burns a senior bird handler at the park.
They are rescues and rehabbed birds brought in from all over Pinellas County.
"(They are) birds that have been injured and can't be released," said Burns.
Through the Friends of Largo program, they were able to not only save the injured birds but also house them in a facility to protect them since they can no longer be released into the wild.
The collection of rescued birds allows Burns to help educate visitors to their unique characteristics and importance to the region.
"Pinellas County is known as the screech owl capital," stated Burns. “People are startled, they come around the corner and you can see a variety of birds out and they say, 'What is that an owl?'”
Burns has been with the birds of prey program for seven years. She loves the excitement these birds bring to the park visitors; and this excitement gives Burns the open door to educate the public about the birds they care for.
She explained, "Anytime you see something live and up close it makes more of an impact. That’s when you can educate them, you have them. You can tell them something they don’t know about this animal that they never knew. Plus up close."
The city of Largo gives the organization the property, but the volunteers must care and feed the animals on their own, and they depend on donations from the public to keep this program going.
There are donation boxes inside and outside the park if you would like to support their programs. Find out more about the Narrows Environmental Education Center here.
The physical park is located at 11901 146th St. Largo, Fl 33774.