MARCO ISLAND — “Welcome to all my fine-feathered friends,” said Linda Turner, kicking off the 2013 Nest Fest, Saturday evening at the Island Country Club. The sold-out gathering really was faux-feathered, with many of the ladies sporting feather boas and headdresses in hues more reminiscent of macaws than eagles, as well as some shades not seen in nature at all. “I see some of you are molting,” she added, alluding to the scattering of fallen plumage on the dance floor.
This was the third annual Nest Fest for the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation. The organization continues to grow, foundation president Carl Way told the group in his remarks, which blurred the distinction between a social gala and a board meeting. Moving forward, the goal is to build on their success, and expand outside of Marco Island, he said, seeking additional support both in Collier County and at the state level. The Eagle Foundation is working with national and even international groups as well, including the American Bald Eagle Foundation, based in Pigeon Forge, Tenessee where the pigeons presumably provide a good food source for any local eagles and Hancock Wildlife in British Columbia and the state of Washington.
Here on Marco, Way reported sad news to the group, already known to many. Paleo and Calusa, the resident pair of bald eagles at the 11.6-acre sanctuary at Tigertail Court, did not have a successful nesting season. They had been sitting a clutch of eggs for approximately 35 days when, on New Year’s Eve, a renter on nearby Bradford Court set off “professional grade” fireworks, scaring the adult eagles off the nest, resulting in the eggs not hatching.
“There is a current investigation being conducted by the FWC for multiple offences,” he told the gathering. Paleo and Calusa have returned to the nest, though, and Way advised best times for viewing, from 7 to 10 a.m., and 5 to 6 p.m., with Tigertail Beach offering the optimal vantage point.
Way also addressed a suggestion that had been made, to put in a webcam at the site. Research shows, he said, that where this has been done, nest abandonment increases by 30 percent in the first year after installation. “It’s just not the right thing to do.”
Attendees were reminded that the foundation’s sanctuary is the last piece of undeveloped residential green space on Marco Island, and urged to make a contribution so it can be preserved as “something for our kids and our grandkids to enjoy.” Helpfully, he pointed out that donations could be accepted on the spot, and “we do take credit cards.”
After dinner and a faux feather finery flaunt-off contest, the chicks and their escorts took to the dance floor, boogying to the sounds of Hot Damn.
To support the work of the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation, or for more information, call 239-269-1754, or go online to www.marcoeaglesanctuaryfoundation.org.