Rosemary Tolliver is a new volunteer with Audubon EagleWatch Program sponsored by Audubon Florida. She monitors specific nests during nesting season from October to May (or sometimes later), until the fledglings leave. She submits her observations to Audubon EagleWatch’s database.
The EagleWatch program is a community science program and volunteers are the “boots on the ground, eyes in the field” who monitor and protect Florida’s eagles. Rosemary’s observations include if the nest is active or not; the number of adult eagles and juveniles; and specific eagle behaviors, such as nest building, incubation, feeding and fledging behaviors. She also reports any new nests in the area and any nest or eagle disturbance to the EagleWatch Program and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
Did you know that Marco Island has three bald eagle nests? Rosemary monitors all three nests and has shared photos of Marco’s three eagle families.
The Marco Island Nature Preserve eagles are available for public viewing with well-known residents, Herb and Calusa. The photographers have devised pet names for the two juveniles – “Nicki” for the small nick on the right side of its beak, and “Nick-less!”
For the last weeks of May, the fledglings at the Nature Preserve at the current age of 17 weeks are developing new skills and exploring their surrounding territories. According to Audubon, typically eagles leave at 17-23 weeks or one eagle could remain in the nest.
The Marco Island Country Club eagle’s nest is on private property, but Rosemary was given permission by the groundskeeper to monitor for EagleWatch.
At the Publix San Marco Road location, a three-year-old eagle has been observed perched near the nest, usually yelling at pesky crows. It does not yet have the characteristic white head and tail. According to Audubon, it takes an eagle four to six years to achieve these characteristics. No visible signs of rebuilding have been observed. An adult eagle has also been seen perched on a tree limb but never in the nest. This might be more of a base and not necessarily a nest.
Nesting season will soon be over, and we may not see the Eagles again at their nests till October. According to Rosemary Tolliver, the Eagles are usually around during the summer but not necessarily at The Nature Preserve. They will be going through their molting process and will be looking fabulous for the webcam as they start their rebuilding process around Labor Day.
According to Audubon, the oldest known Bald Eagle in the wild was 37 although the average lifespan for an eagle in the wild is believed to be 15-25 years. Bald eagles have no natural predators. Their biggest enemy are humans. Causes of bald eagle mortality include collisions with cars and power lines, electrocution, gunshot wounds and poisoning.