NEWS FROM THE NEST – January 30, 2020

Above Photos by Frank Steiger Photography

Hoo’s in the Nest?

It’s bald eagle nesting season and many of you have inquired, “Where are Calusa and Herb?   Did they abandon their nest and fly away?”  The answer is… Mother Nature had a very different plan for the eagles’ nest this year. 

At this point in time, the eagles would normally be sitting on eggs in their nest, producing eaglets by March.    Last September however, a pair of great horned owls in search for a new home, beat the eagles to the nest and took up residency.  Calusa and Herb have occasionally been seen flying in the Nature Preserve, roosting in other trees while watching the strangers squatting in their nest.  

What’s Up With the Great Horned Owls?

The great horned owls do not make their own nests but commonly steal 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. 

It currently appears that the great horned owls are sitting on eggs in the eagles’ nest.   The eagle cam will be kept live so that great horned owl nesting activity can be viewed on the Nature Preserve’s website.  If they have 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. 

What’s New At the Preserve?

Viewing telescopes are now onsite so residents and visitors can enjoy viewing bird activity. Commemorative pavers have been installed along the front of the Preserve in honor of our local residents and visitors. This project is ongoing and pavers are still available in three sizes.  Walking paths will be established in the Preserve this spring, and a gazebo for educational gatherings will be constructed this summer. 

What Else Have We Been Doing?

The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary won the “Spirit Award” as participants in the November, 2019 Marco Island Fire Rescue Foundation’s 7th Annual Chili Cook off held at the Esplande.  Chef Jerry Swiacki made excellent chili for his fourth year while volunteers Diane

Honecker and Kathryn Rogers served tasty chili with heaping portions of good cheer!   

Marco Island Farmer’s Market

See our “Events Calendar” for dates we are set up at the Farmer’s Market.  Stop by to say hello, check out our merchandise and pick up Nature Preserve brochures and information. 

Educational Outreach Programs

As part of our Educational Outreach Program, we will once again visit kindergarten classes at two local elementary schools, the YMCA Pre-K, and St. Mark’s Pre-k through April.  We will commemorate Earth Day with presentations on the importance of conservation, preserving green-space on Marco Island, and protecting our precious wildlife. 

Why was the Name Changed from Marco Eagle Sanctuary to

Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary?

The name was changed to the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary because, in addition to our beloved bald eagles, this is a bird sanctuary with approximately 20 plus bird species on the property.

Bring your family and friends to visit the Nature Preserve.  Come pick up a new Preserve informational brochure or commemorative paver information from the Nature Preserve kiosk.  Hope to see you there!

Linda Turner
Director of Community Relations