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October 19, 2010

VoluntEARS help Audubon Center return rescued birds to the wild

By Fran Miglore

October 19, 2010--A critical step in ensuring that birds rehabilitated at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitlandcan successfully return to the wild is giving them the opportunity to test their wings in the center's Magic of Flight barn. On Saturday, Oct. 9, Disney VoluntEARS teamed up with staff and volunteers from the Audubon Center to be sure the birds can get ready to "fly the coop" by overhauling the flight barn and surrounding landscaping.

Our company sponsored the building of the flight barn in 2001 and has been an ongoing supporter of the center. With the flight barn in need of refreshing, VoluntEARS were thrilled to participate in this TogetherGreen (www.togethergreen.org) volunteer event, helping with tasks ranging from roof repair, pressure cleaning, replacing of food boards and prey boxes, and re-wrapping the very large perches that are in the enclosures. Walt Disney World Community Relations donated a new pressure washer and sliding ladder, and the Animal Programs and Environmental Initiatives departments donated animal care equipment.

The flight barn contributes to the conservation and rehabilitation of raptors such as eagles, hawks, owls and ospreys, so they can ultimately be released back into the wild. Over the years, the flight barn has played an important role in conserving and protecting wildlife by helping thousands of birds build up their strength and stamina so they could return to their natural habitats. The barn's enormous size provides plenty of room to fly for the center's patients, resulting in a significant reduction in recovery time for birds like the American bald eagle. This gives also the center more room to have and treat more injured birds.

The Audubon Center also is supported through the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF). In 2010, 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 population of bald eagles in the United States. Audubon EagleWatch helps in the conservation of bald eagles, gathering information about the eagles, active nest locations, 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.

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