HOLMES BEACH – Children and parents alike had an educational and entertaining morning with live owls as Wildlife Inc.’s David Sadkin brought three of his owl friends for a presentation to the Island Branch Library on June 16.
It was standing room only to get up close with animals that are common on the Island, but due to their silence in flight and their nocturnal nature, are rarely seen.
“Owls are raptors, which means they are birds of prey that feed on live animals in the wild,” said Sadkin, at which time a child in the front row responded telling him that raptors are dinosaurs that will eat you. “No, that’s a velociraptor; it was a dinosaur that lived millions of years ago,” Sadkin responded.
Sadkin brought a barred owl, a barn owl and a great horned owl to show the children the various traits and features unique to each. All three owls are permanent residents at Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Inc. in Bradenton Beach due to accidents that left two of them unable to fly; the great horned owl lost an eye due to eating rodents that had been poisoned by rodenticides meant to control rat and mouse populations.
“A lot of people don’t know that the biggest threat to these animals is destruction of their habitats from land development and poisons used to control rodents known as rodenticides,” Sadkin said. “An acre of land can support 3,000 birds.”
The children learned plenty more owl facts, including the fact that all birds can turn their heads around backwards due to having 14 vertebrae in their necks versus the seven in humans. The reason owls do it so often is because they can’t move their eyes left and right and have virtually no peripheral vision. They also learned that while owls aren’t fast flyers, they are efficient hunters because they make no sound when they fly, so their prey never knows they’re coming, especially since they hunt at night.
It’s not just owls that come into the care of Wildlife Inc. Sadkin said that squirrels and rabbits are two of the most common brought in. He warned that things are not always as they seem and it’s not always a good idea to believe just because baby animals are alone, they have been abandoned – it’s usually not the case.
“A lot of people find baby animals such as rabbits and believe they have been abandoned by their mothers. The truth is, some animals such as rabbits guard their young from a distance. They’ll only stop by the babies once or twice a day to feed them, then they go hide and watch for predators. It’s best to leave them alone and not assume your help is needed,” Sadkin said.
Wildlife Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that serves all of Manatee County. Their priority is to save wildlife through rehabilitation and education, and they have been doing that for 35 years. With an annual budget close to $200,000, they are funded solely by donations and private grants, with no funding from local, state or federal governments. Donations can be made through their website at or by mail at Wildlife Inc., P.O. Box 1449, Anna Maria, FL, 34216.