Commemorative Pavers

Twelve new commemorative pavers were recently installed in front of the Nature Preserve.  The pavers and the beautiful inscriptions may be viewed on the June 27th post on the Marco Island Nature Preserve Facebook page.  

The commemorative pavers are an ongoing project.  Visit for information and to order your own paver.  Order forms are also available at the Nature Preserve’s kiosk. 

Donations are also accepted via our website at or by check mailed to P.O. Box 983, Marco Island, FL., 34146.

We must preserve and protect our natural land and wildlife from overdevelopment for future generations to enjoy.  

Won’t you please consider continuing your pledge support or making a donation today?

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, 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-

NEWS FROM THE NEST – September 30, 2020

We hope this newsletter finds you and yours healthy and coping well.  During this pandemic, our fundraising, outreach school programs, and planned social events have been cancelled for most of 2020.  Our plans and our work for the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary however, will continue with your help.  Please see our request and Nature Preserve update below.  In the meantime, we look forward to our resident bald eagles, Calusa and Herb returning to their nest, and for better days ahead for everyone.   


The next phase of development, installation of the nature trail walkway, has been completed!  To date, the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary has received donations for only half of the project cost and needs an additional $3,000 to cover the total project cost.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation for the Marco Island Nature Preserve’s new nature trail walkway Donations May Be Made By Check to:

Marco Island Nature Preserve
P.O. Box 983, Marco Island, FL, 34146
Credit card on
Click on “Donate Now”

We thank each and every one of you for your valued support over the years.

Eagle Cam Update

A few months ago, the eagle camera was struck by lightning so a new replacement camera was purchased.  The cost of the camera, camera maintenance and monthly services are a financial challenge in this time of the pandemic. 

With the generous assistance of Al and Yvette Benarroch, owners of Affordable Landscape Service, a boom truck raised the camera technician to the top of the pole to install the new camera. The eagle cam is currently operating for public viewing. 

The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary sincerely thanks Affordable Landscape Service for their generosity and assistance in the installation of the new camera.  Once again, people globally will enjoy watching our resident bald eagles, Calusa and Herb, raising their next family of eaglets.  

Telescope Update

The eagle-viewing telescope will be returned to the post in front of the Nature Preserve when it is determined to be safe for public use. 

We look forward to the upcoming nesting season!

Carl Way, President and Founder,

Linda Turner, Director of Community Relations,

The Coastal Breeze Article September 2020

Eagle-Cam Returns
By Don Manley

A bird’s eye view of the nesting eagles at the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary will soon be available once again.

The remote camera providing that up-close and personal, moment-to-moment peak into the majestic creatures’ lives that was destroyed by lightning over the summer has been replaced. The camera should be back online by Oct. 1, in time to observe the eagles during mating season and as they care for their offspring after the eggs hatch.

“It took a while to get the new camera, but we’re ready to go now,” said Carl Way as the installation was occurring recently. Way is chairman of Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary, and the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, Inc. “Between weather and all the other things, it takes time. These things don’t just happen overnight, that’s for sure.”

Perched high atop a pole, the powerful camera a good distance away from the tree where the American Bald Eagles have nested since at least 2003. Every September they begin their nest rebuilding process for the upcoming nesting season, sometimes bringing youngsters from the previous year with them.

An 11.6-acre, undeveloped parcel located along Tigertail Court is home to The Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. The property is also home to rabbits, mice, iguanas and an assortment of birds, such as killdeer, doves, cardinals, it is and horned owls.

Way said the eagles haven’t begun rebuilding the nest, but they have are occasionally seen in the vicinity.  

“They’re not staying in the nest or around the next because it’s not that time yet,” he added. “Once they get into their mating season they’ll start working on it. Generally, they start around the 15th of October through the first part of November.”

Sometime after Jan. 1 is when the birds generally produce offspring, explained Way. “Once they lay the eggs it’s 35 days beyond that that they hatch,” he added. “Generally, they don’t fledge for another 12 weeks, which is when they start to fly.

The last pair of nesting eagles to occupy the site was named Paleo and Calusa in 2011 by the fifth grade class at Tommie Barfield Elementary School. However, Paleo died in 2018 when a battle with another bird resulted in him striking a power line. Calusa soon teamed up with another male and the duo successfully produced offspring that year.

Last year, however, horned owls took over the nest forcefully to birth and raise their young, but the chicks fell to the ground and died.

“Owls don’t return to the nest they were in, especially if it was not successful,” explained Way. “They’re nest hunters and not nest builders. They steal other nests. When the horned owls are around it’s always a battle.  It all depends on who wins. Last year they won.”

The students at Tommie Barfield have selected a name for Calusa’s new mate: Herb. The inspiration for the name was the late Herb Savage, who was known at the island’s “unofficial mayor” for his role as chief architect for the developers of modern Marco, the Mackle Brothers, and his decades of civic involvement, unceasing good cheer and enthusiastic support for all things Marco.

Savage was also a veteran of World War II.

“They said that since the eagle is our national bird and he was a service member who did so many things for the island, they decided to name him Herb,” said Way.  

The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary is located at 665 Tigertail Court. For more information about the facility, visit For more information about the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, visit

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