Musician, singer/songwriter and producer Paul Rodgers with wife Cynthia Kereluk-Rodgers and SORCO manager Dale Belvedere holding Houdini, the resident great horned owl at the open house Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

South Okanagan owl and raptor centre welcomes Bad Company

The numbers were down but the bucks were still coming in at SORCO open house

Bad Company founder Paul Rodgers once wrote a song about a particular bird and at Sunday’s SORCO Raptor Rehab Centre open house, he had another idea for a tune on the wing.

“Being here today made me think, I’ve written Seagull, so maybe it’s time for Eagle,” said Rodgers with a smile.

He lives with his wife, former Miss Canada Cynthia Kereluk-Rodgers at their Summerland home when they’re not touring with the band.

“Seriously, we’re here today because of the incredible work SORCO does helping raptors. We care very much about all animals and especially wildlife.

“What is really great is to see so many children here today.”

The couple has helped a wide range of facilities internationally, including being longtime SORCO supporters.

“When we’re hiking and come across as many birds as we do, quite often it’s quite amazing to see, and I think there’s a good chance some of them have been rehabilitated here,” said Cynthia. “You know, man and animal don’t often mix and usually it winds up in tragedy for the animals, so to have an organization like this that takes them in and is so committed and has been doing it for so long on a shoestring budget, you’ve got to support that.”

She added: “It’s also quite interesting, even though they are not a restaurant, SORCO does serve 6,000 meals a year. That’s a lot of beaks to feed.”

SORCO manager Dale Belvedere noted the support from Rodgers is critical to her operation.

Related: SORCO celebrates 30 years

“Paul and Cynthia have been supporters of SORCO way over 10 years, longer than I’ve been here. They donated generously to the build of the clinic, they’ve donated to the silent auction in past,” said Belvedere. “All of the proceeds we get today go back to bird care, and so for people like that who just donate from their hearts, it’s just an added bonus.”

She added that while the numbers attending the open house were down several hundred, the nearly $19,000 raised was very close to the 2017 total.

“It’s still truly wonderful and it all worked out,” said Belvedere.

As always the event with it’s many varied and unique opportunities to learn and marvel at the raptors had a little something for people of all ages. It was the 30th anniversary of the facility and resident great horned owl Houdini’s 18th birthday.

Like Rodgers, Fred Wiley, 88, of Oliver is another long-time supporter of SORCO who took the opportunity Sunday to see how he is helping.

“They just do so much good work here at SORCO, the huge number of volunteers, you’ve got to support them,” said McLean. “It’s just such a good cause and I admire the birds. They really are beautiful, they enhance our province and our country.”

For Carolyn and Neil McLean of Osoyoos it was their first visit.

“It’s fabulous, just fabulous. We’ve driven by here so often but it’s not open, so we just jumped at the chance to come and see what they have here, and the work the volunteers do is fantastic,” said Carolyn, 70.

At the other end of the spectrum was seven-year-old Ethan Adams who was there with his sister and dad.

“Houdini was just so neat to see that close. I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “He can’t go back to the wild, but he helps kids learn about owls and that makes it better for the ones that can go back. They really do good work here and I want to volunteer here too.”

 

Learning was a key element of Sunday’s open house at SORCO as (left to right) Nicolas King, Mackenzie and Riley Baker learn about birds at one of the many display tables. Mark Brett/Western News

Nylah Matutak, 2, prepares to give Jerry the Moose (BC Parks mascot) a hug with park ranger Jessie Spence watching on at the SORCO open house Sunday. Mark Brett/Western News

Houdini was once again the star attraction at the annual SORCO open house. Mark Brett/Western News

Houdini was once again the star attraction at the annual SORCO open house. Mark Brett/Western News

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