Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Naming owls, and caring for them, is a project at Largo park

LARGO — No sooner have they completed one contest than the folks at McGough Nature Park have taken on another.

On Friday, the city of Largo announced the winning name for its "Name the Great Horned Owl'' contest launched in May.

The great horned owl with the broken wing that arrived at McGough in April will now be called Franklin.

More than 650 people submitted entries. The name Franklin, with 212 votes, was originally submitted by members of the Friends of the Largo Nature Parks to honor Frank Arthur, 78, a nature parks volunteer. Arthur died from cancer May 28.

Arthur began volunteering at the park with his wife, Sandie, in 2009. When J.R. McGough Nature Park's first great horned owl, was illegally released by vandals in January 2011, Arthur helped park staff search for J.R. When the bird couldn't be found, Arthur made sure that J.R.'s memory was kept alive in the hearts of those who visited the park.

In an email announcing the winning name, Largo parks superintendent Greg Brown recalled the volunteer work Arthur did for the park.

"Frank was a true friend of J.R. when he was released,'' Brown wrote. "He led families on walks daily looking for J.R. and telling his story. We are very pleased that the memory of Frank will live on in the name of our new great horned owl, Franklin.''

But the naming contests are not over. The park has a new bird, so a new contest to name that one will begin Monday.

Two weeks ago, the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary delivered another juvenile great horned owl, a female weighing approximately 4 pounds, to McGough. The bird had an injured eye and was partially blind. She was rescued on the Fox Hollow Golf Course in Trinity by Barb Walker of the Clearwater Audubon Society.

"She was sitting by a pond on the course and one of her eyes was completely black because it had blood in it," Walker said. "I brought my towel up to block her view but she could still see well enough to try to make a run for it. I got ahead of her easily . . . She put up her talons and I grabbed her feet with my left hand to capture her.

"She is a magnificent bird,'' Walker said.

After a team of veterinarians at Busch Gardens treated the owl, she was taken to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

Have an idea for a name for the new owl? Visit for instructions about how to participate in the contest.

In a few months, McGough Nature Park staff hope to see the new owl and Franklin sharing a new home built by Casey Sammel. The Eagle Scout candidate spent six weekends building the large structure.

But for now the two owls will live side by side with a divider in the center. "Only time will tell as to how the two will get along,'' Walker said.

Matilda, a barred owl that arrived at McGough in October 2011, will continue to reside in a neighboring pen.

"Great horned owls and barred owls are not friendly to each other. They cannot live in the same enclosure,'' explained Peggy Mann, a Largo recreation leader based at the nature park.

Joel Quattlebaum, who was the manager of McGough Nature Park for the last two years and will soon report for military duty, is pleased to know that after his departure, the nature park will continue to work with rescued owls.

"They are such a great teaching tool for the children who come in here,'' Quattlebaum said. "And with the new owl, kids are going to be able to learn even more — how she uses her other senses since she is partially blind.''

Quattlebaum's replacement will be Kyle Vogel. Vogel is enrolled in the master's program in environmental health at University of South Florida. He has worked at the Newfound Harbor Marine Institute in Big Pine Key, where he captained marine vessels carrying students to coral reefs, sponge flats and coastal waters to learn about the different plants and animals in each community.

Piper Castillo can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4163.

. fast facts

Want to help?

The Clearwater Audubon Society is taking donations to help maintain the birds of prey enclosures at McGough Nature Park as well as provide food for the birds. Send a check to Clearwater Audubon Society, P.O. Box 97, Clearwater, FL 33757. The donation must be clearly marked for McGough birds of prey.

You can also make a donation to help support the birds of prey through the Friends of the Largo Nature Parks. For more information on donating to the Friends group or becoming a volunteer for the organization, call (727) 518-3047.

Naming owls, and caring for them, is a project at Largo park 08/11/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 11, 2012 2:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.

  2. Roosevelt Blvd closed at I-275 after truck hauling crane hits overpass


    ST. PETERSBURG — A truck transporting a construction crane hit the Interstate 275 overpass at Roosevelt Boulevard Tuesday.

  3. Pasco students, 12 and 15, faces weapons, threat charges


    Two Pasco County students from different schools were arrested Tuesday after one brought weapons onto campus and the other threatened a shooting, according to sheriff's deputies.

  4. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier


    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools will start an hour later next year, beginning the day at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:25 p.m., the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]