Boyd Hill Provides Sanctuary To Rescued Raptors

Tucked away in St. Petersburg’s southside, Boyd Hill has been a fixture in the area in some way or another for a long time. Originally a zoo and botanical garden, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve has undergone a lot of work to turn back the clock and give visitors an idea of a wild, undisturbed Florida.

A Glimpse Of Old Florida

Boyd Hill Trail
Boyd Hill acts as a time capsule so visitors can get an idea of what a native Florida ecosystem could look like.

Boyd Hill features many of the unique ecosystems that exist in Florida, all within close proximity. In a short walk you can travel from a humid swamp that’s classic to Florida and end up in the uncharacteristically arid sand scrub habitat. One can learn a lot simply by walking through the preserve!

Hiking through the park isn’t the only educational opportunity. The City of St. Petersburg’s Birds of Prey program started in 1986 and since then it has been housing around 20 birds of prey in the on-site aviaries. Deemed non-releasable (due to injury or other circumstances), the various hawks, owls, vultures, eagles and more live their lives under the excellent care of staff and volunteers of Friends of Boyd Hill. This way all of the birds enjoy a quality diet and take part in educational opportunities for visitors.

Rollin’ Oats is proud to be the first participant in the new Birds of Prey Program Care sponsorship program and will be funding Howi’s care for the 2022-2023 period.

Meet Howi at Boyd Hill

Howi at Boyd Hill
Howi, the black vulture. She is believed to be the only bird in the aviary that came from Boyd Hill.

Howi the black vulture came to Birds of Prey program in 2014 after an employee of the preserve found her acting sickly. It took volunteers about a week to monitor and catch her, after which she was nursed to better health. She has limited ability to soar due to an improperly healed wing fracture, so the aviary will be her forever home. Since she is still able to glide well, Howi is glove trained and participates in a few educational programs each year. When she’s not participating in these programs you can find her enjoying hearty meals like mice, rats, beef heart, chicks, quail, chicken, and fish.

Birds Of A Feather

Red Shouldered Hawk at Boyd Hill
Rusty the red-shouldered hawk showing off his wings. Rusty lost use of his right eye and has complications from a collarbone injury.

Howi shares the aviary with a smattering of different bird species. She shares her enclosure with a turkey vulture named Pugsley. There is a red-shouldered hawk, often confused with its larger red-tailed cousin. You can witness several different owl species, from the imposing great-horned owl to the smaller screech owl. The aviaries also house a few different falcon species and even one Bald Eagle named Abiaka.

Screech Owl at Boyd Hill
An example of the screech owl’s impressive camouflage.

The Mission

All of the feathered residents at Boyd Hill are only there because they suffer from an injury or other past event that would make survival in the wild impossible. The Friends of Boyd Hill, through support of the Birds of Prey program, hope to not only give these animals a chance at a better life, but also inspire us to care more about the wildlife we share space with. Their biggest annual event, Raptor Fest, garners the most buzz so make sure to keep that on your radar for early 2023. You can learn more at their website, or by visiting Boyd Hill yourself!

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