It is bald eagle nesting season and visitors are frequently seen at the Nature Preserve looking confused and asking, “Where are Calusa and Herb? Are they nesting? Did they abandon their nest and fly away?” The answer is… Mother Nature had a different plan for the eagle’s nest this year.
At this point in time, the eagles would normally be sitting on eggs in their nest, producing eaglets by March. This past September however, a pair of great horned owls beat the eagles to the nest and took up residency. Calusa and Herb have been seen flying in and out of the Preserve, roosting in other trees , and watching the strangers squatting in their nest.
The great horned owls do not make their own nests but commonly adopt nests of other large birds. They are the earliest nesting birds in North America and are a protected species under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Their hunting activity takes place from dusk to midnight, then again from 4 AM to sunrise. Their clutch size varies from one to four eggs, the incubation period is 30 to 37 days, and the nesting period is 42 days. The average size of an adult great horned owl is 22” with a wingspan of 3’ to 5 ‘. The females are usually larger than the males. With their fiercely powerful talons, the great horned owls fight off predators and can crush their prey to make if more compact for carrying.
If the great horned owls produce a successful clutch, it is most unlikely that Calusa and Herb will be using their nest this season. A few years ago, the eagle pair at the Island Country Club Golf Course lost their nest to a pair of great horned owls but the eagles regained that nest the following year. We look forward to the eagles visiting the Nature Preserve over the late spring and summer months as they have for many years, and to their return to the nest in the fall of 2020.
The Nature Preserve is a bird sanctuary with 20 plus bird species on the property. Viewing telescopes for adults and children are onsite so residents and visitors can enjoy viewing bird activity. The eagle cam will be kept live so that great horned owl nesting activity can be viewed on the Nature Preserve’s website.
Walking paths for a nature trail will be established in the Nature Preserve during the summer months. Of 2020 Commemorative pavers have been installed along the front of the preserve in honor of local residents and visitors. Plans are in progress to build a gazebo that will serve as am outdoor classroom for our educational outreach program and as a shelter.
The Marco Island Nature Preserve is a 50l (c) (3), non-profit, 100% volunteer organization. Additional information regarding the Preserve, eagle cam, commemorative paver project, or donations may be obtained by visiting the website at www.MarcoIslandNaturePreserve.org.
The public is welcome to visit the Nature Preserve at 665 Tigertail Court on Marco Island, Florida.
Linda J. Turner
Director of Community Relations