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Protect and Preserve

Knock, Knock! Who’s There? It’s the Pileated Woodpecker!

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The magnificent Pileated Woodpecker…Can anyone say Woody Woodpecker? Okay, the Pileated Woodpecker (Dyrocopus pileatus) does not wear a cute blue suit like Woody Woodpecker (Animated cartoon character), but they do share that snazzy red mohawk atop their heads and a big, noisy personality! Pileated Woodpeckers are the third largest woodpecker species in North America – only smaller than the extinct Imperial and Ivory Billed woodpecker species. So, okay, they are the largest living woodpecker in the woods of North America today! They are startling to see clinging to the side of a tree due ... Read More »

Storm Season and Trees

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com As of June 1st, hurricane season officially began and by midweek, the first named storm, Tropical Storm Andrea, was blowing by our island. Luckily, Marco Island just received lots of rain but not much wind from Andrea. As the season progresses, it’s important to know ahead of time what to do when a storm strikes to protect trees to prevent or minimize financial and aesthetic losses. In the past couple of years, most of the trees on the island have been impacted by spiraling white fly and the ones which have had treatment are ... Read More »

Dolphins: Wild and Free

PHOTO BY Kirk Gardner

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com With smile-like expressions on their faces, serious agility that translates to playfulness to human observers and a curiosity that may equal ours, dolphins are WILD animals – marine mammals that need to be treated as such to keep them that way. “Flipper” is the iconic dolphin whose story created the myth that a wild dolphin is naturally friendly and never a menace. In fact, “Flipper” was a trained, captive dolphin (actually several dolphins) who did tricks on command for food, happily accepting the food and did not bite the hand that fed him. In ... Read More »

“SEASON” is Just Starting for Some

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Snowbird Season – or as locals simply call it – “season,” is over. Or at least it has definitely slowed down. Our roads are quieter; that’s good. Restaurants are easier to get in; that’s good for locals (but not so good for owners). Publix aisles are navigable; that’s great! The beach has fewer people on it; nice. But now it is a different kind of “season.” It is one for Loggerhead Sea Turtles (Caretta caretta) and nesting shorebirds, such as Black Skimmers (Rynchops niger), Least Terns (Sternula antillarum), and Wilson Plovers (Charadrius wilsonia). This ... Read More »

Updates on Island Mammal Life

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Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique mammal populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Gopher Tortoises It is estimated that the Florida Gopher Tortoise population has decreased overall by 30% ... Read More »

Updates on Island Bird Life

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By Nancy Richie - NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Photos by Jean Hall The following are brief updates, “animal bites,” on the unique bird life populations that are monitored in and around Marco Island. All are locally, state and even federally protected. Please enjoy the wildlife life, but do not intrude in their space, feed, water, or harass them in any way – this is against the law. If wildlife acts startled, agitated, or leaves the site as you approach, it is considered harassment. Move away slowly and enjoy the animal and its natural behavior. Burrowing Owls The popularity of the Marco Island Burrowing Owl ... Read More »

The Tiger In The Sky

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By Nancy Richie - NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Photos by Jan Bergantz The Marco Island Burrowing Owl population is very popular this season. So popular, in fact, that many burrow sites on the main thorough fares are being invaded by visitors for drive-by photos and amateur tours. Some sites have people approaching all day long by car, bike, foot – even crawling under the flagging tape with cameras – time will tell if this owl population will tolerate and sustain this impact. Just a friendly reminder – please approach all wildlife sites quietly, if in a group, stay together, don’t surround the posted area ... Read More »

La Florida

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By Nancy Richie – NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Florida, originally called “La Florida” or “flowery land” by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon in 1513, is home to an amazing and impressive array of wildflowers and butterflies. Florida is known for many unique characteristics such as having the longest contiguous coastline in the lower 50 states (1,197 miles), the only State to have two oceanic borders (Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean) and, of course, the famous Everglades. But it is the vast and diverse number of native plant and butterfly species that really are the most spectacular characteristics for year- round residents ... Read More »

Marco Island Christmas Bird Count

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By Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The 113th Audubon Christmas Bird Count was held nationwide between December 14th, 2012 and January 5th, 2013. For over one hundred years, citizen scientists gear up with binoculars, a favorite bird guide and checklists, and brave the elements to count birds in their backyards and neighborhoods. Generations of families have participated; from avid birders to students to scientists to folks who just enjoy the outdoors. The Christmas Bird Count is the longest running wildlife consensus of bird populations in our country. Audubon and many other organizations use the counts to monitor and assess the health and of ... Read More »

Bumper Crop

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com It is common knowledge on Marco Island that Florida Burrowing Owls (Athene cunicularia) are present, popular and so abundant that they are found in almost every neighborhood on the island. Not only do our residents enjoy these charismatic birds of prey, but people travel from all over the world to see them. Professional photographers charge top dollar to school the amateur how to photograph them in the “best light,” though any ol’ camera will do. One can’t go wrong when the subject has big yellow eyes, long downy legs and attitude that could take on ... Read More »

Far From Home

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Something is going on. Razorbills, an alcid bird or a web-footed, diving seabird, have been seen all over Florida by avid birders and beach goers. A few have been reported on Marco Island’s Tigertail Beach as well as in Caxambas Pass. Being a peninsula with one of the longest coastlines in the country, Florida has seabirds, so why is it so unusual to see the Razorbills? Historically, there have only been 14 documented sightings of this species in Florida. But since early December, there have been over 20 reports from Jacksonville to Marco Island of ... Read More »

THE PINES OF MARCO ISLAND, Not traditional christmas trees

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  Did you attend the City’s Christmas Tree Lighting last weekend? Have you gone by Veterans’ Park to see this beautifully trimmed tree? If not yet, take a look and Merry Christmas! On our semi-tropical barrier island, there are predominantly three species of pine-like trees. None would make for a hearty Christmas tree, but all have a value in our community. So, put up your artificial tree or get one from a big tent; the pines on Marco Island are not your traditional Christmas trees. Southern Slash Pine  The Southern Slash Pine is a native tree ... Read More »

The White Pelican

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com  One the largest and oldest known birds in our nation, named by a German naturalist in 1789, is the White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. It migrates from the north to winter in south Florida, particularly Sarasota to south of Marco Island, giving the moniker, “snow bird,” real meaning. Once hunted as sport, the White Pelican is protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Act of 1918 and is listed as a species of special concern in the State of Florida and several other states. This species of pelican, one of the two in the United States (the ... Read More »

Talking Trash: the toxic type

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Monthly, different local groups and residents make the effort to organize and pick up trash on Marco Island’s beach. Weekly, we all make the effort to throw trash in the appropriate receptacle; the regular trash bin which goes to our overflowing county landfill or the recycling bin which keeps excess trash out of the landfill so that products can be repurposed and reused. Those are our choices at home and work. Daily, we pick up trash as we take walks in our neighborhoods, parks or on the beach. Trash; it is part of our life. ... Read More »

Snowy Egrets: One of the coolest birds on our beach

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PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com One of several larger shorebirds that are spectacular to watch while walking the beach, especially along the Tigertail Lagoon and Sand Dollar beach peninsula area, is the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula). Just saying the name can cool one off on a hot Florida day at the beach. When walking the beach, one notices that there are several large white birds with long legs in the tidal zone and lagoon area. The Snowy Egret is easily identifiable by its bright yellow feet. Perhaps they are yellow galoshes? Not the largest of the long-legged shorebirds, the Snowy ... Read More »

Sentinel of the Bridge

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Who hasn’t noticed when crossing the Jolley Bridge leaving the island, the lone American Osprey sitting on the hand rail, the light pole or sign, usually looking to the south, and sometimes, it seems, looking right into your eyes through the windshield? This American Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) has been observed on our bridge for years. My daughters as young girls, then driving to high school on their own, have always noticed it in the mornings, admiring its tenacity perched on the sign as cars zoom by ruffling its feathers and enjoying one of our unique ... Read More »

Panther or Bobcat?

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com If you are fortunate to see an elusive Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryii), the first thing you will remember and describe is the long, long, large tail! Many people may think they have spotted a Panther, but it is a probability that a Bobcat (Felis rufus) was the big cat that ran by, especially if it is in an urban area. There is no doubt there are panthers on Marco Island, patrolling through quiet neighborhoods and the mangrove fringes of Key Marco and Barfield Bay. There have been well-documented sightings and reports. One summer, a ... Read More »

WATCHABLE WILDLIFE: Let’s respect what we have

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com Located on the edge of the Everglades and surrounded by Rookery Bay and the Ten Thousand Islands’ unique mangrove and estuarine environment, Marco Island’s subtropical climate and diverse habitat allows many wildlife species encounters. In abundance and not found in many places, wildlife such as, Bottled-nosed Dolphins, West Indian Manatees, Loggerhead, Green, and Kemp-Ridley Sea Turtles, many species of shore and water birds, Bald Eagles, American Osprey, Burrowing Owls, Gopher Tortoises, Bobcats and even Panthers. Not a day goes by as an area resident that one does not encounter wildlife. Going to the beach, boating, ... Read More »

Shorebird NESTING SEASON

PROTECTING & PRESERVING  Nancy Richie  NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com The City of Marco Island is part of the Florida Shorebird Alliance, a partnership that includes Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), City of Naples, Collier County Government and Sheriff’s Office, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR), Sea Grant, the Conservancy of SW FL, Inc., Friends of Tigertail and Collier Audubon Society. The goal of this Alliance is to support those entities involved with volunteer management, materials and information to improve public outreach and education, while monitoring and protecting resting and nesting shorebird populations. Due to smaller staffs and budgets in all entities, ... Read More »

National Audubon’s 112th Annual Christmas Bird Count

PROTECTING & PRESERVING Nancy Richie NRichie@cityofmarcoisland.com On Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, volunteers ranging from professional scientists to amateur birders canvassed Collier County for an approximate twelve hour period counting species and numbers of all birds observed. This is the 112th year for this national bird count, having occurred between December 14th through January 5th each year since 1900. It is the longest running wildlife census in our country. Using dedicated experts and “citizen scientists” who help assess the health of bird populations has given Audubon and other organizations data to help guide conservation actions. Some families have made this a tradition ... Read More »