Friday, September 25, 2020

News From The Nest: Keeping An Eagle Eye On Bald Eagles, Paleo And Calusa

Photos by Frank Steiger Photography

Photos by Frank Steiger Photography

By Linda J. Turner

Finally! There are two eaglets in the nest at the Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary. 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 easy 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 in providing easy and accessible close up viewing of the eagles, which has resulted in numerous requests for the installation of eagle cams.

What Will Eagle Cams Offer?
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 online eagle cams 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!

In response to the public outpouring of interest in eagle cams, the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation (MESF) has taken on a fundraising project to make this happen. The goal is to have the eagle cam system installed on the Preserve in September of 2017, before for the start of the next eagle-nesting season in October.

Required for this 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. The approximate cost is $45,000.

About the Eagles
Bald eagles have resided on the Preserve property since the 1970s. The Preserve’s current resident eagles were named Paleo and Calusa by the Tommie Barfield Elementary School 2011 fifth grade class. Offspring eagles always come back to their birth nest to start their families if the nest is available. There is a high probability that Paleo or Calusa are relatives of the Preserve’s earlier resident eagles.

The bald eagle, a state and federally protected species, holds a special status of prominence as America’s symbol for freedom and strength. The bald eagle also holds symbolic significance in our community on the city’s logo and signs. The eagle is the mascot for the Marco Island Charter Middle School.

The Marco Island Nature Preserve and Bird Sanctuary
The Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation (MESF) is the parent organization for the Preserve project located at 665 Tigertail Court. The Foundation’s mission 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 attract new bird species, butterflies, and wildlife. Walking paths will be installed for guided tours and for bird watchers to enjoy bird watching when the eagles are not nesting.

A small learning center will be located on the Preserve’s southern corner, 330 feet from the nesting tree, compliant with state and federal restrictions for construction activity around an eagle’s nest. The learning center will provide interactive video stations for visitors to learn more about the eagles as well as the ecosystem that makes up the Nature Preserve. The learning center will also provide a controlled entrance and exit to and from the Preserve walking paths.

Collaborating with the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation on the Nature Preserve project are Florida Gulf Coast University, 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 secure websites: www.MarcoIslandNaturePreserve.org or www.MarcoEagleSanctuaryFoundation.org, and click on the “Eagle Cam Fundraising” button.

Donations may also be made by check payable to the Marco Island Nature Preserve & Bird Sanctuary (please indicate “eagle cams”) and mailed to 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.

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