Christina Funk, an assistant naturalist at the Stage Nature Center, introduces Samantha, a barred owl, at the nature center March 9.

Christina Funk, an assistant naturalist at the Stage Nature Center, introduces Samantha, a barred owl, at the nature center March 9.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Scout to raise funds for nature center owls

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published April 10, 2018

TROY — Troy resident Wyatt Lucas, 15, said his mom, Gail, has been bringing him and his siblings to the Stage Nature Center since “before we could walk.” 

“Our lives are so filled with running to get from one place to another — appointments, meetings, sport activities — that we don’t stop to simply sit and breathe,” Lucas said via email. “Those of us that live in Troy are very lucky. We have the convenience of living in a city, and we have this entirely different world in the nature center.” 

Lucas is in Boy Scout Troop 1036 and takes online courses through Michigan Connections Academy. He is collecting returnable bottles and cans at his home, 5612 Fawn Court, April 14 and 21 to raise funds to care for the newest additions to the center — five owls — and to help build and fund an owl house. 

He is also raising funds on social media, and he hopes to raise $10,000. 

Due to the sudden and permanent closure of the nonprofit Organization for Bat Conservation, which had been housed at the Bat Zone in Pontiac, the Stage Nature Center accepted five owls Feb. 28. 

Two eastern screech owls, two barred owls and a great horned owl now make their home outside at the nature center until they can be moved to a permanent location on the grounds this spring, when they will be available for public view.

“They’re doing very well,” said Carla Reeb, executive director of the Troy Nature Society. She added that the nature center volunteers and staff are “very impressed” with Lucas and the leadership he is showing through this initiative. 

Lucas said he likes coming to the nature center to walk the trails and watch the animals. 

“Unlike the zoo, you never know what you are going to see here, because the animals come and go,” he said. 

He’s seen a small group of wild turkeys, one male and three females, at the center.

“The deer chill in grass watching the fawns play. The bucks stand alert watching for humans. … This is an amazing place to tune the world out even if it is just for a few minutes. You leave here a calmer, more fulfilled person,” he said. 

He has been working with Stage Nature Center assistant naturalist Christina Funk in planning the best way to help the owls that, due to prior injuries, cannot be released into the wild. Autumn, the great horned owl, is his favorite. 

Funk previously worked with four of the five owls for 3 1/2 years at the OBC Bat Zone. 

“These owls need our help. Without it, they will not survive,” Lucas said. “Due to prior injuries, they cannot be released into the wild. The owls will help the nature center teach people of all ages about owls. The public will get a chance to get up close to them, which they can’t do at the zoo. The building I am raising funds for will protect the owls from predators, both animal and human. It will also be a safe place for interaction with (the) public.” 

Depending on the species, owls in captivity may live 20-25 years, Funk said.

Reeb said a Meet the Owl event is planned for 3:30 p.m. April 29 at the Stage Nature Center. Registration is required. Visit www.stagenaturecenter.org or call (248) 688-9703 for costs and to register. 

The Stage Nature Center is actively recruiting volunteers to help with the care of the owls, along with the other animals that live at the nature center.  All interested parties should contact Funk by email at christina@troynaturesociety.org.  

Sponsorship opportunities to directly benefit the owls have also been established. At press time, $2,000 had been raised for this effort. 

People can drop off returnable cans and bottles 9 a.m.-6 p.m. April 14 and 21 at 5612 Fawn Court. Pickups are available, if needed. 

For more information, search “Wyatt Lucas” on Facebook and look for the owl picture, or email Lucas at wyattwilliamlucas@aol.com. 

The Troy Nature Society is a nonprofit organization that operates educational nature programs and activities at the 100-acre Stage Nature Center.  

The nature center is located at 6685 Coolidge Highway.