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Save Our Seabirds Sunset Soirée in the Herald Tribune

/ Saturday, March 12, 2016

 David and Ester Pilston. Photography by Wendy Dewhurst-Clark

David and Ester Pilston. Photography by Wendy Dewhurst-Clark

See gallery from Sunset Soiree.

For me, the Sunset Soiree benefiting Save Our Seabirds was an event that stirred so many memories … the Great Blue Herons (including one we named Charlie), the ibises, pelicans, seagulls and more that my father so loved watching from his porch overlooking Tampa Bay.
So many memories.
This evening’s event, however, was all about the future for all of those birds and ensuring that future generations would have a Save Our Seabirds whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release (whenever possible) these beautiful creatures back into the wild.
More than 200 guests came out to Mote Marine for a truly delightful evening. They were greeted by a great horned owl, “Great Gatsby,” and an Eastern screech owl, “Bark.” The real star of the evening, however, was a sulphur crested cockatoo named “Kelly” who rode around on emcee Scott Anderson’s shoulder all evening.
Among guests were CEO David Pilston and his wife, Ester, Nick and Danielle Gladding, Ali and LaRue Chokr, Jeff Mayers, David Turner, Robert Gaglio, Jim Roque, Christine and John Brown, Marlene Liberman, Sandra Rios, Sally Yanowitz, Carol Sparrow and many more.
In 2008, Save Our Seabirds grew out of the Pelican Man Bird Sanctuary, which had to close its doors when Dale Shields (the Pelican Man) passed away. David Pilston became CEO in 2012, and has been working to establish sound business practices to ensure the organization’s survival for generations to come.
He shared that the three-acre center is home to, on average, 150 birds at any given time, 100 permanent residents and 25-50 birds in rehabilitation. The winter season is their busiest time, he said, as “More people in our area means more injuries to wildlife.” The leading cause of injury is nets and fishing rods, followed by car injuries and golf balls. “The Sandhill Cranes are so trusting and don’t know the meaning of the word fore,” he said.
Following a bountiful buffet generously donated by the Longboat Key Club, a live auction and raffle of a beautiful pearl necklace donated by Diamond Vault raised in excess of $15,000. An anonymous matching grant of $25,000 (which must be met by July 1) holds the possibility of adding another $50,000 to SOS coffers.
Save Our Seabirds answers 2,500 bird rescue calls per year, and 92 percent of its revenues go to mission-critical expenditures, in other words, saving birds. According to Pilston, of the 1,000 species of birds in the United States, 30 percent are threatened with extinction in the next 30-50 years.