Raptors and Revelry at the Winery

You don’t often see the words “raptor” and “revelry” in the same sentence, and certainly not at a winery. Yet we celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary this past weekend at a fundraising event that incorporated all three.

Wente Brothers Vineyard, 1995, Seekers Vineyard, 2017

When you’re an animal lover, you get excited when an event lands on your anniversary for the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley. Wingin’ it at the Winery is held annuallyΒ  to raise funds for this vital, local non-profit.

Count us in!

The center (WCSV) processes over 5,000 wild animals a year. Animals come to them injured or orphaned, and sometimes both. Staff and volunteers at the center make every effort to return the young to their family. Barring that, they rehab the animal or bird in a way that keeps them wild, and therefore self-sufficient. Once ready, they reintroduce the animals back into the wild, usually within ten miles of their original home.

Wingin’ it at the Winery included a live and silent auction, wine tasting, appetizers and a fully vegetarian meal. It’s not often I can attend an event and eat everything on offer. What a treat.

Seeker Vineyard

Gathering for dinner and a live auction

Auction items included art and wine, travel and experiences and a number of animal-centric gift baskets. Seeker Winery in San Martin generously donated the venue, along with wine from their private reserve.

Silent auction items on display at Seeker Vineyard

Silent auction items on display at Seeker Vineyard

One of the biggest draws though, was the potential release of an owl. There were no promises. The animals well-being comes first, but if all went well, we would get to witness an owl released back to the wild.

Like many non-profits, WCSV has a small staff. They rely on many volunteers to help care for and rehab the animals. I first learned about WCSV from one of my Pilates classmates. Ellen volunteers at the center, and used to share intriguing stories about her work with the animals

A couple of years ago we rescued this orphaned hummingbird

rescued baby hummingbird

Rescued baby hummingbird

and I turned to Ellen for guidance. She confirmed that taking the small and needy bird to the center was the right thing to do. That little hummingbird had a happily ever after story, when she was re-released back into the wild.

While we’re on the subject of re-releasing birds into the wild, you’ll never guess the extraordinary highlight of the evening?

Agency staff and volunteers released three raptors (in this case owls). They had been in the shelter since May.

As we stood together along the length of the vineyard at dusk, the owls flew into the trees, one by one. Though the owl in the center box was initially reluctant to venture out, she too eventually flew into the trees she would now call home.

Preparing for raptor release Seeker Vineyard

Back to front: Ashley Kinney, WCSV Hospital Manager,Holly Cormier, Development Director and Ellen Lovelace, volunteer

Ashley Kinney owl release

Ashley Kinney, WCSV Hospital Manager encourages the third owl to take flight…and she did

What a spectacular night!

Owl soaring

Full wing span as the owl soars toward the palm tree

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24 thoughts on “Raptors and Revelry at the Winery

    • Sara, it was a great night. We enjoyed beautiful weather, lovely people, great food and of course the owls! Mike bid on some wine and craft beer so he was happy to support the cause *and* bring home some special treats.

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  1. What an exciting way to celebrate your anniversary. Congratulations on 22 years! Here’s to another 22. πŸ™‚ I do love birds and especially the owls. You got a couple of good shots there. You two look like you are as much in love as in the beginning. You are the cutest couple in both photos. It’s just wonderful that there are so many out there trying to help where ever they can. More evidence of good in the world. Have another wonderfilled weekend. Hugs,

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    • Thank you, MH! You would have loved this event. Seeing these owls up close and knowing they were starting life healthy and ready for the world gave me goosebumps. I sat at a table with one of the founders, a modest woman who declined a photo. She’s in it for all the right reasons. Ellen is encouraging me to sign up to volunteer. I’m giving it serious thought (or will, as my youngest son leaves for college this time next year). I know it would be an incredible experience.

      It’s funny to look back at that wedding photo. We were happy then, and we’re happy now, but I can add to that list a certain contentment. Years of living together, growing together, raising a family together have brought us closer and made us stronger. I’m so fortunate.

      There is lots of good in the world, and here you are as living proof. xo

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      • Contentment is my favorite word. It rings so much more true than “Happy” I was going to say that love changes over many many years. If it’s good, it gets so much better. What you have then is a gentle blending of the two of you. No hard lines. It just feels good.
        I’m sure you will find the right venue to donate your many talents when you become an empty nester. It can be a lovely time
        Hugs.

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        • I agree, Marlene. In fact, happy almost seems manufactured, like an ad for a day at Disneyland. It’s an easy word to use, and I use it myself, but words like joy, contentment, comfort are often much better descriptors.

          It will be jarring to see my younger son move to a dorm next year (as planned). It was equally so with his older brother. But as with everything, it’s about trade-offs. I’m looking forward to traveling more, crafting more, volunteering more, etc. Time spent with you is on that list. xo

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  2. I reckon those owls had it good at the sanctuary, if their reluctance to leave was anything to go by. I had to laugh at the close up photo of the owl, who appears to be wearing a natty brown Fair Isle sweater πŸ™‚ Happy Anniversary, and may there be many more of them xxx

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  3. This sentence resulted in a sudden and unexpected flow of water from my eyes: ‘As we stood together along the length of the vineyard at dusk, the owls flew into the trees, one by one.’ There’s something about that – a gathering of good people to witness the owls return to freedom. I would have been a blubbering wreck I think. It seems to me to be an absolutely fitting way for the two of you to celebrate your years together and to turn your minds to the next decade or two …… Long may you fly together! xoxo

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  4. You captured the night in all it’s glory! Thank you for being here, thank you for spending your anniversary with us here at Seeker Vineyard. We are so appreciative to have hosted this spectacular event!

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  5. Fantastic! What a wonderful way to spend your anniversary. I can’t think of a better place to be as I assume there was also wine πŸ˜‰ I just love the photo of the owl peeking out of the box but all are delightful.

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  6. I can understand how pleased you must have been to be able to eat everything on the menu, Alys. I remember well the tunes when I was vegetarian and could actually eat nothing!

    Anyway, congratulations on your 22nd wedding anniversary. What a great way to celebrate 😊.

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  7. That last photo says it all–what a feel-good night! And what a wonderful wildlife center, to be so committed to these fabulous animals. You and Mike sure know how to celebrate a big day! And I LOVED seeing the “before and after” marriage photos–you both look as happy now as you did on the wedding day! A blog post to make the heart sing!

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  8. What an extraordinary event to witness – an absolutely heart warming and amazing way to celebrate your wedding anniversary! Love the blurry photo of the owl’s moment of release the best:)

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  9. What a fabulous event! Aren’t owls amazing!
    I want to come back someday as a raptor / bird of prey. The freedom of flight. To soar!
    What incredible birds!
    Happy Anniversary AND Happy Birthday! XOXO

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  10. Oh dear, I’m very late to visit and wish you a Happy Anniversary too! How fun! You two really haven’t changed much in 22 years but it fun to see those fresh faces on the big day. I think we all become softer looking actually, which isn’t a bad thing.
    That looked like an evening orchestrated just for you! Did you win any bids and get to take some thing home? Amazing how there’s no green grass at this time of year. Good grief, what do the dear live on out there? Those owls sure have big ol’ eyes hey? xox K

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  11. What a perfect celebration of love and marriage, Alys! Your special photos together truly made my heart smile! Your anniversary celebration was also a wonderful way of sharing your passion for nature. A bit of beautiful serendipity for a very special couple! β™₯β™₯

    Two weeks ago, we attended a Harvest Pow-Wow sponsored by S.O.A.R. (Save Our American Raptors). This wonderful event raised funds to help rescue raptors in the Midwest. In addition to Native American dancers and drum circles, we saw a beautiful Bald Eagle, owls, and several other rescued raptors. We learned so much from the S.O.A.R. volunteers.

    Sending warmest hugs across the miles, dear Alys! Enjoy your favorite month of the year! β™‘

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