In case you missed the ridiculously commercialized attempt to lure your hard-earned dollars into the pockets of jewelry stores or candy and flower shops, today is Valentine’s Day. If you have somehow forgotten to purchase a meaningful gift for that special someone, allow me to come to your rescue.
For a mere $10 donation to Peace River Wildlife Center, you can purchase a ticket to our upcoming Luna Tunes bluegrass music celebration. This is our big annual fundraiser. Now in its third year, it continues to grow each year. Tickets can be purchased on our website, or you can call or stop by the Center. Go ahead and pick up one for yourself while you’re at it.
The festivities will be on Saturday, March 2, at the Florida SouthWestern State College campus at 26300 Airport Road, Punta Gorda. Gates open at noon. Bring a lawn chair to relax in the shade. Leave the cooler at home — you won’t need it. The following vendors will be providing scrumptious treats for purchase:
• Ravenous Rhino will be there with their modern, funky, American street food. Chef-driven, innovative, scratch-cooking that won’t break the bank. Awesome value, unpretentious, fun and just so darned good!
• Mumsy’s Caribbean Grill & BBQ will be there with their food truck. They offer delicious traditional cooking with a twist. The “twist” will draw you in, but the flavor and quality of the food will keep you coming back for more.
• To round out the day’s culinary adventures, Zoet’s Sweet Boutique will be there to satisfy your sweet tooth. Zoet, which means sweet in Dutch, will definitely bring a smile and a happy tummy to you and your loved ones.
• PRWC will also have water and soft drinks available for purchase.
But enough about the food — the main attraction for the day is the music. There will be three bluegrass bands providing entertainment: Southwind Bluegrass Band, Bluegrass Central and Swinging Bridge. The music starts at 1 p.m.; arive early to claim your favorite shady spot.
PRWC’s first Luna Fest at History Park in Punta Gorda was so successful, we had to move to FSW college campus for more room and change the name to Luna Tunes. Apparently, “Luna Fest” is copyrighted by the Luna Bar people, championing women in film. A worthy cause for sure, but they don’t have a groovy little white owl named Luna to celebrate.
Last year’s event at FSW campus was a hit with all in attendance. This year will be even bigger and better — more food, more fun, and guaranteed good weather. OK, maybe one of those things is hyperbole. But Luna and his friends from PRWC will definitely be there to greet his adoring fans.
Meanwhile, back at the Center we are toe-tapping to a different beat — the Crazy Squirrel Shuffle. While that may sound like a good title for a bluegrass ditty, trust me when I tell you, it’s more like a lullaby performed by a drunken punk rock band with the volume turned up to 11.
According to the internet, eastern gray squirrels breed in the spring. A few, older females may also have a second litter in the autumn when there is plenty of food. Apparently, the squirrels of Charlotte County (great name for a new reality TV series) don’t have access to the internet. They never stop reproducing here.
Although squirrels breed year-round in temperate south Florida, we definitely see an increase in baby squirrels during the autumn and spring months. But since winter lasted approximately two weeks this year, fall ran into spring and the babies never stopped falling. We aren’t sure if the babies we are admitting now are late autumn or early spring offspring, but there are lots of them.
So, if you (or your hired lawn care crew) are trimming plants in your yard, please be mindful that the tree may just be a lawn decoration to you, but it’s more than that to wildlife — it’s their home. Check for nests and sleeping animals before attacking with the machete and chainsaw.
If a nest is disturbed or displaced, leave it in a shady warm spot, close to the original location, away from people. Mother will retrieve the kids and take them to another nest site. If any squirrels are injured, take them to PRWC or your local wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.
Don’t try to raise the babies yourself. Although they’re adorable little fur babies when they are tiny, they soon morph into balls of frenetic energy with teeth and needle-sharp nails flailing away like buzz saws come to life. The trained staff at PRWC have the proper equipment and diets to raise the babies properly for healthy and successful integration into the wild when that time comes.
If you would like to learn how to be a foster parent for baby mammals through PRWC, we are always looking for volunteers. Call or email the office and we will arrange training. And while we love rearing orphaned and injured baby squirrels, we would rather have their mothers do all that hard work. So please don’t kidnap babies that don’t need to be “rescued.”
Those of us not up to our eyebrows in baby squirrel formula and so sleep-deprived we don’t know what day it is will see you at Luna Tunes. You’ll see the rest of us there too, but we may not see you. If you see someone in a PRWC staff shirt staring off into the distance, it’s probably me taking a quick nap with my eyes open. You never want to let the squirrels know your guard is down or they might try to take over.
Peace River Wildlife Center is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to the care, preservation and protection of Charlotte County’s native wildlife since 1978. They are open seven days a week year-round, including holidays. Tours are offered from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. PRWC receives no government funding and relies entirely on private donations. For more info, visit PRWildlife.org, email PeaceRiverWildlife@yahoo.com or call 941-637-3830.