Birds of all sizes – like Horus

MARS finds new home in Merville

Major donation by longtime friend of society paves way for purchase

  • Feb. 18, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Erin Haluschak

Record Staff

A future for the Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society is taking flight, as the organization officially took possession of a 10.4 acre piece of property Monday.

Manager Maj Birch explained the land purchase comes thanks to a good friend of MARS, Michele Woodrew, who bequeathed $300,000 to the organization.

“If it weren’t for Michelle, we wouldn’t be standing here today,” noted Birch, who added Woodrew also left a legacy for the Kitty Cat P.A.L. Society and the Comox Valley Hospice Society. “We’re so excited. I’ve been dreaming about this for at least 10 years. The board kind of started thinking about it about five years ago, but we just didn’t have anything.

“Although my property has served us well, we have outgrown it tremendously. It’s inadequate because we don’t have enough water, it’s ALR so we’re restricted by having public access. More of the public is coming to see what it is we do.”

The property is located on the Old Island Highway in Merville, on the corner of Williams Beach Road and the highway.

Birch explained while the move to the new location is at least three years away, MARS’s plan includes more community outreach, education, and hopefully incorporating walking trails where people can learn about wildlife.

Woodrow’s family was present for the noon dedication ceremony, and her mother Donna Nelson said Woodrow’s heart was full of love for all animals.

“Anytime there were animals around, she would adopt them and find homes for them,” she noted.

“Michele would be so pleased — so proud that people were sensible enough to use for something that’s tangible. And here you’ve got property that’s going to last forever. She would go out and see the birds; anywhere there were animals, she was there.”

EagleFest on Saturday

MARS celebrates the annual spring infusion of bald eagles along the shores of Vancouver Island with the Campbell River Bald Eagle Festival – EagleFest – on Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Maritime Heritage Centre near Discovery Pier off Highway 19A.

Each year hundreds of bald eagles come to our shores to feast on the spawning herring that arrive by the millions in late February and early March. Many of these birds have spent time here waiting since the late fall salmon spawn, and this is your opportunity to learn more about them, to celebrate them as they prepare to begin raising their young.

EagleFest will feature guest speakers, live eagles, hawks and owls, face-painting and public judging of a photo contest.

EagleFest runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is ample free parking with door prizes every hour. Admission is $5 per person or $10 for a family. MARS members get in free. More information is available at


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