Collier County residents are fortunate to live in an area so abundant with bird life, as well as having opportunities to support local groups committed to the health and welfare of the avian populations and their environment. One such organization is the Audubon Society of the Western Everglades.
Now in my second year of volunteering for Audubon as a bird steward for the Tigertail Beach nesting bird colonies, I can attest to the pleasure and usefulness of involvement in this endeavor.
Summer season bird stewards monitor colonies of three threatened/endangered species that nest on this beach. Volunteers speak to interested beach goers about the birds and ways to support successful nesting. This monitoring and education aids the bird population: 2016 was a particularly successful season on Tigertail, one of the most productive in the state. Yet stewarding also greatly rewards the volunteers. Witnessing avian mating and incubation behaviors, then the growth and development of the chicks, is truly remarkable: nature at its best!
Despite efforts by Audubon to ease stewarding requirements, fewer residents have volunteered this year for the summer season, which lasts from May to September.
Audubon is now boating the volunteers from the Rookery Bay dock on Shell Island Road to the Big Marco Pass critical wildlife area at the northern tip of Tigertail, rather than having stewards walk from the beach parking lot. Previously required steward session reports have been eliminated. The volunteer time slots are four hours long, counting the boat ride to and from the beach, with available hours on Saturdays and Sundays. Audubon personnel are informative, inclusive, and appreciative, and are present during each session to answer questions and deal with problems that may arise. While consistent stewarding is helpful, any volunteer time one has available is most welcome. Prior knowledge of the birds is not required.
All three species of birds have arrived and are in various stages of nesting. For a unique and rewarding experience helping the birds, as well as providing wonderful self-enrichment, please consider volunteering. The birds are calling!
For more information and/or to sign up, contact Alli Smith, the anchor steward for Big Marco Pass critical wildlife area at: firstname.lastname@example.org.