Solvang’s Wildling Museum invites visitors to free Winter Family Day
The winter edition of its popular free Winter Family Day event at the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature, 1511-B Mission Drive in Solvang, returns from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 12.
Now twice-yearly, the event invites visitors to bring the whole family and enjoy free museum admission along with a day of art and nature-inspired activities.
Included will be a live owl meet-and-greet by Santa Barbara Audubon Society’s “Eyes in the Sky,” a wildlife education program featuring rescued birds of prey. During the 11 a.m. presentation, visitors will meet Puku, a western screech-owl, and Athena, a barn owl, and learn more about native raptors in this region.
Later in the afternoon, attendees can look forward to an opossum presentation at 1:30 p.m. by Santa Ynez Valley opossum rehabilitator Dawn Summerlin, who will be bringing along a rescued opossum and teaching visitors about these environmentally beneficial marsupials.
Also available will be art activities inspired by artist-in-residence Kerrie Smith’s “Portals & Pathways” installation and hands-on activities for all ages.
“We are so delighted to offer our Winter Family Day. Thanks to support from the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation, this is an entirely free day for all,” said Stacey Otte-Demangate, the Wildling Museum executive director. “We hope local families take this opportunity to explore our exhibitions and enjoy learning about some of our local wildlife.”
The “Eyes in the Sky” program has been Santa Barbara Audubon’s key wildlife education program since 2000. It features five birds of prey — three owls and two falcons — that serve as education ambassadors.
“These birds are in the care of ‘Eyes in the Sky’ because they cannot survive in the wild,” said Ms. Otte-Demangate. “From blindness to broken wings, each bird had to be rescued because of a permanent disability. The birds’ unique stories of survival share a message about the impact that we as humans have on the lives of our ‘wild neighbors.’ ”
“Eyes in the Sky’s” goal is to foster respect and understanding for these wild species and their habitats. To learn more, visit www.santabarbaraaudubon.org/eyes-in-the-sky.
Ms. Summerlin, the opossum rehabilitator, was born and raised in upstate New York with a love of animals instilled in her by her parents.
“When I was a child, they never knew what I would bring home next,” she said. “While growing up, I always wanted to be a vet, but in my day, that wasn’t an option. Therefore, I became a nurse, graduating from Albany Medical Center School of Nursing.”
She continued nursing when she moved to California in the early 1970s.
For the last 22 years, Ms. Summerlin has specialized in rescuing and rehabilitating opossums.
“I have found that opossums are generally misunderstood by the average person, thinking they are rabid and fierce,” she said.
Inspired to support all underdogs, Ms. Summerlin has focused on these quiet, beneficial marsupials. Today, she is a satellite in the Santa Ynez Valley for the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network.
Besides nurturing and nursing opossums to the point of being released, she also does presentations at schools, museums, retirement communities “and anyone else who will listen!” She also advises other rehabilitators about opossum care.