SORCO fundraiser to benefit recovery centre

The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) is hosting a fundraiser that’s strictly for the birds.

Manager Dale Belvedere releases a red tailed hawk which was nursed back to health last winter.

Manager Dale Belvedere releases a red tailed hawk which was nursed back to health last winter.

The South Okanagan Rehabilitation Centre for Owls (SORCO) is hosting a fundraiser that’s strictly for the birds.

Sunday Nov. 20 at the OK Falls Hotel on Main Street there will be a roast beef dinner, draw and raffle to benefit the non-profit rescue and recovery centre.

“We’ve already exceeded last years number of rescues and we still have another two and half months to go,” said SORCO manager Dale Belvedere. “Normally we only do one major fundraiser a year and that’s our open house, but this year with all the birds coming in it just doesn’t bring us in enough. Public donations were drastically down this year and we had to buy food this year for the first time in the history of SORCO.”

Food for the recovering birds is usually supplied entirely through the centre’s rat-breeding program.

“I had 1,200 in the freezer and I ran out within two weeks because we were feeding out 500 pieces of food a week so we’ve had to go and buy food so that’s added a huge cost to our finances,” said Belvedere.

Read more: Rescued raptor takes flight for new life

The centre operates solely on donations from the public along with a provincial gaming grant, without which the manager does not believe SORCO could stay open.

So far this year the centre, which shares it’s five-acre property just north of Oliver with the Burrowing Owl Society, has taken in 109 raptors including 40 owl chicks, mainly Great Horned Owl although there were also four Western Screech Owl chicks, a species which had previously been listed as ‘at risk’ but are showing signs of recovery.

“The bad part about that many chicks is I would say about 80 per cent should not have been rescued but it happens, people think they are in distress but that is not the case,” said Belvedere. “We’re working on the whole public awareness thing about what to do when you see a raptor (thought to be in trouble) but basically the message is, don’t do anything, call us.”

Currently there are only five birds that call the facility home however Belvedere warned that could change drastically in the coming weeks.

“It could get really busy when the clocks go back,” she said. “What it is, is that it gets really dark early. Everyone’s leaving work so they’re all on the roads at five o’clock at night and the birds see the prey on the roads and go down and get hit.

“In the summer the sun doesn’t go down until eight o’clock so you don’t have birds flying around on the highway when everybody is leaving from work which we figured out a few years ago.”

In addition to the dinner in November, SORCO representatives will be at Mount Baldy for the next two weekends from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. for the Back to Baldy Festival of Colours to promote the ski hills re-opening this December.

Entry is by donation and includes a barbecue, wine tasting and chair rides. Proceeds will go to SORCO and the food bank.

Limited tickets for the OK Falls event are $20 and can be reserved by going to the donations page at sorco.org.

Doors open at 4:30 p.m. with dinner at 5:30 p.m.