Author: Curt Witthoff
Nature Preserve Wildlife and Plant Identification Project
Through the collaborative efforts of the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, the Naples Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and FGCU Environmental Studies students, numerous wildflowers, plants, and wildlife in the Nature Preserve have been identified.
The Marco Island Nature Preserve sincerely thanks everyone for the work and hours that were dedicated to this important identification project.
Wildflower brochures will be available for visitors at the Nature Preserve in the near future.
2021 Educational Outreach Programs
The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary presented conservation programs to four kindergarten classes at Tommie Barfield Elementary, five kindergarten classes at Manatee Elementary, the pre-K classes at St. Mark’s Episcopal, and the Marco Island YMCA. The children learned about protecting wildlife, the significance of Earth Day, and basic conservation practices. Each child received a 7” stuffed bald eagle at the end of the presentation. The outreach program was well received by the children and rated excellent by the teachers.
A sincere thank you to Board Member Curt Witthoff and volunteer Kathryn Rogers for their excellent assistance and participation in making this educational program a great success.
The Nature Preserves receives LCEC Funding Award!
The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary (MINP) is pleased to announce that it recently received a $1,000 Environmental Funding Award from the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC). The award fund will be utilized toward construction costs associated with the future Nature Preserve pavilion.
In a statement made by LCEC, “Since the program’s inception in 2013, LCEC has awarded nearly $160,000 to local organizations for a variety of initiatives focused on protecting our precious environment”.
Meet our partner…the Community Foundation of Collier County!
The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary (MINP) is pleased to announce that it recently received a $4,000 grant from the Community Foundation of Collier County.
The MINP is honored to be awarded this grant and most thankful for the Community Foundation’s partnership. This grant will help supplement some of the loss of income that the Nature Preserve has suffered due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
These funds, in accordance with our mission, will provide needed support to preserve the Nature Preserve’s natural landscape, protect the wildlife, and educate school-age children.
The Community Foundation of Collier County, now in its 35th year, is a tax-exempt, public, charitable organization established in 1985 to increase and focus on local private philanthropy.
Soft Opening of Marco Island Nature Preserve Trail System – 03/01/2021
On a beautiful, sunny morning, the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird
Sanctuary held a “soft opening” of the new nature trail.
The trail was completed thanks to the time and hard work of the Nature Preserve’s volunteers who spread 80 tons of oyster shells that were dumped in piles along a cut out pathway. The 8 feet wide by 1800 feet long nature trail meanders through almost 12 acres of natural land that is dotted with butterflies, wildflowers, native plants, and trees.
Currently, an extensive wildflower and native plant identification program is underway with the skillful assistance of the Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island, the Naples Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, and FGCU’s Department of Science and Environmental Studies. Plans are also underway for the Nature Preserve’s future butterfly, native plant, and pioneer gardens.
This year, the Nature Preserve’s bald eagles are not nesting but they remain in the Preserve. The eagles use the nest to consume their fish and leave the nest when they finish their meal. It is not unusual to see osprey immediately swoop into the nest looking for leftovers.
Nest activities may also be seen on the eagle cam by visiting the Nature Preserve’s website, www.MarcoIslandNaturePreserve.org. The eagle cam was made possible by donations from Marco Island’s Calusa Garden Club, citizens and tourists, with a fully matching donation made by local resident, Dave Gardner, in honor of his late wife Anne.
The nature trail, located at 665 Tigertail Court, is free to the public and
open from dawn to dusk. To protect the wildlife habitat, smoking, pets,
and bikes are prohibited.
The public is invited to stop by the Nature Preserve for a free “Coffee
With The Birds” on Saturday, March 13th from 8 AM to 10 AM.
The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary is a 50l (c) (3),
100% volunteer organization. For additional information call 239 269-
We are saddened to share the following news with all of you. Last evening, we lost one of the eagles that makes the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary home. We are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and will continue to update you all as we receive more information.
News From The Nest – April 2017
The eaglets have landed!
Finally! The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary have two eaglets in the nest.
Last week, through a high-powered lens, two small, fuzzy, eaglet heads were seen reaching up for food being delivered into the nest by the adult eagles.
One eaglet appears considerably larger than the other, an indication that the two eggs hatched a few days apart. The adult male eagle, Paleo, is busy all day fishing and flying his catch back to the nest. Calusa, the adult female, is busy in the nest keeping the eaglets warm and protected from crows and hawks, and feeding fish to her eaglets that she has shredded for easier consumption.
Eaglets grow at a very rapid pace reaching adult size by 12 weeks. They will fledge from the nest between 10 to 12 weeks, but return to their nest to roost and be fed for a few more weeks. Throughout each day, people are seen at the Preserve with their binoculars and long lens cameras attempting to get a closer look at the eagle family activities. There has been considerable interest and numerous requests for eagle cams to provide close up viewing of the eagles at the Preserve.
Marco Island Needs Eagle Cams
One of the objectives for Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary is to educate the importance of preserving our island’s green space and protecting its’ wildlife. Broadcasting our eagles activity through an online eagle cam will make it easy for our school age children and eagle lovers everywhere to view these magnificent birds from anywhere in the world. We have all heard the adage, “a picture says a thousand words”. Imagine how many words an eagle cam would say!
The Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation (MESF) is the parent organization for the Preserve project located at 665 Tigertail Court. The Foundation is currently fundraising for eagle cam system to be installed on the Preserve by September of 2017, before the next bald eagle nesting season in October. Required for this costly project are two high tech pan and zoom cameras that can withstand water, salt, wind and dust, a computer and software for transmission, waterproof computer housing, crane installation, electrical, internet and broadband connections.
Paleo and Calusa our current resident eagles were named by the Tommie Barfield Elementary 2011 fifth grade class. There have been eagles residing on the preserve property since the 1970’s, most likely Paleo or Calusa’s are relatives of those since offspring’s always come back to the nest where they were born to start their families if the nest is available. The bald eagle, a state and federally protected species, holds a special status of prominence as America’s symbol of freedom and strength. The bald eagle also holds symbolic significance on Marco Island as well since the City of Marco Island’s Logo contains an Eagle, and the mascot for the Marco Island Charter Middle School is an Eagle. The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary
Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation’s plan for the Nature Preserve project is to preserve and protect the site for generations to come. The preservation will include additional native trees and plants to draw new bird species, butterflies, and wildlife. Walking paths will be installed for bird watchers to enjoy, and a small learning center. The walking paths will be used for bird watching and guided tours when the eagles are not nesting. The learning center will provide interactive video stations for visitors to learn more about the eagles as well as the ECO system that makes up the Nature Preserve, and a controlled entrance onto and exit from the Preserve walking paths. The learning center will be located at the Preserve’s southern corner, 330 feet from the nesting tree compliant with state and federal restriction on construction activity around an eagles nest. Collaborating with Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation on the Nature Preserve project are FGCU, the Naples Botanical Garden, Rookery Bay National Marine Reserve, Defenders of Wildlife (Southwest Florida), Florida Native Plant Society (Naples Chapter), Keep Collier Beautiful, and the Collier County Public Schools Department of Science and Environment to name a few.
To Donate For Eagle Cams
Let’s keep an eagle eye on our bald eagles, Paleo and Calusa. If you would like to be able to follow our eagles activity and nesting process online please donate to our eagle cam project.
To donate by credit card, please visit either of our two websites:
www.MarcoIslandNaturePreserve.org or www.MarcoEagleSanctuaryFoundation.org,
Click on “Eagle Cam Fundraising” Button
To donate by check, indicate your donation is for the eagle cams and mail to
Marco Island Nature Preserve & Bird Sanctuary
P.O. Box 983
Marco Island, Florida, 34146.
The Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation is a 501 (c) (3), federally registered, 100%volunteer organization. For additional information call 239 269-1754.