Audubon of the Western Everglades Newsletter
Thank you for all your continued support!
Message from the President:
Dear Audubon Members,
I begin this entry on March 22, a day that many social activists deem "World Water Day". Recognizing that it is vital to our sustenance,people across the globe (including many Floridians) are increasingly concerned about the quality and quantity of our water supply.
Audubon of the Western Everglades has devoted time, talent, and treasure towards preserving regional water resources, giving particular attention to shallow seasonal wetlands, which are so easily degraded and/or destroyed. These wetlands are critical to many species, and their loss is a big concern to AWE, and a focus of much of our energy. AWE has also joined with many other concerned citizens and environmental groups in Florida by taking a stand against fracking,
which pollutes water and uses millions of gallons of water in the process.
So this summer, whether you are swimming in a lake or the ocean, boating on a river, sunning by the sea, or fishing in a creek, take time to bless and appreciate this amazing liquid that sustains us.
We hope you have a great summer, and that you return to Naples with a renewed appreciation for and commitment to protecting this beautiful place and this irreplaceable resource. As many of our environmental protections are suddenly subject to being revoked and dismantled, the need for vigilance and citizen involvement is ever more urgent.
As always, we encourage you to visit our website
See you at one of our many events next season!
, AWE President
Birds, Babies & Beaches
SW Florida's Shore & Water Birds
Tuesday, April 4th at 7:00 pm
at FGCU's Kapnick Education Center at
Naples Botanical Garden
Join us for a exciting evening with our speaker:
Collier Shorebird Stewardship Manager
Adam DiNuovo has been the Shorebird Monitoring and Stewardship Program Manager for Audubon FL since April 2015. He has worked on seabird and shorebird research projects on the East, Gulf and West coasts for the past 16 years. Projects have included American Oystercatchers in SC, Piping Plovers in the Gulf following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and Atlantic Puffins and Arctic Terns in ME. Prior to his arrival in Florida, he was the Research Coordinator for the California Least Tern and Western Snowy Plover Program at San Diego Zoo Global's Institute for Conservation Research and the Sanctuary Manager for National Audubon's Project Puffin in ME.
NEW Feature -
Adventures in Birding
If you have an interesting birding experience that you want to share with our members send it to firstname.lastname@example.org att: Lori along with pictures as a separate attachment.
Submitted by: Alan Keller
Scarlett Macaw Blue/Yellow Macaw
This is a birding report not about birds but rather the logistics and indignities associated with finding them. In what may become a series, if reader reaction is not entirely negative, this report covers a recent expedition to Ecuador, home of over 1,600 bird species and an important destination for birders from throughout the world.
The story begins with self booking two areas to visit - the Ecuadorian eastern jungle region and the western slopes of the Andes, both involving Quito, the capital, as entry point. Our self organized tour began with an 8 pm. arrival at the Quito airport on a direct flight from Miami. We walked to the taxi line and asked to be transported to the Hotel Carlota. The drivers, although obviously eager for the business, freely admitted that they hadn't the slightest idea where the hotel was. Other than a vague idea that it was in la zona historica, we didn't either nor did we have the address or phone number. The dispatchers were no help. Under the hope that if we reached the old part of town, someone would be able to point us in the right direction we set off. Arriving in that area, however, we found no one on the streets. Finally, after an extensive exploration of the zona historica, we blundered onto the hotel, a small boutique one with seven rooms, a comfortable bed, and a very well functioning cappuccino machine.
On to the Jungle
The next morning required a 30 minute flight from the completely socked in Quito airport to the almost charmless Ecuadorian Amazon oil town of Coca on TAME, the Ecuadorian military operated airline beset by parts shortages and imminent bankruptcy. Quito, of course, is ringed by Andean peaks, and thus TAME has to fly blind out over the mountains to quickly descend into the jungle. Normally we do not pray on planes. This time we reconsidered.
After arrival in Coca we were shuttled to the city docks to board a long motorized canoe for the three hour journey down the Rio Napo (a major tributary to the Amazon, several hundred miles downstream) to La Selva Lodge. Shortly after setting out it began to rain (it does a lot of that in the jungle) to the degree that even in Lodge provided rain slickers we got drenched. "This will not be your last drenching" announced the La Selva guide who accompanied us. He was right.
After the river journey we disembarked for a 10 minute walk to non motorized small canoes for a forty minute paddle across a lake to La Selva, a series of thatch roofed buildings in indigenous style with very good Ecuadorian food and a spa. The reason for the spa will be revealed as we continue.
Then began five days of hiking, canoeing, and hanging out on gently swaying 150 feet towers above the forest canopy.
Hoatzin White Throated Toucan
On March 14, by chance the birthday of Carolyn Keller, a co-participant, I was summoned urgently by her call from the bathroom. "Alan, get in here quick. Is this some kind of birthday surprise or what"? Certain that I had not prepared any surprises in the bathroom, I was amazed to discover the toilet paper climbing the wall to the 10 foot ceiling. Thus began a several day dialogue between the administration of La Selva, Carolyn, the bilingual birding guide, and the native guideabout just who had most probably pulled the toilet paper caper. The native guide stated emphatically the culprit had to have been a "raton" (a big rat). Fearing what could be a public relations disaster, the administration held out for a cuddly type of miniature possum. Carolyn stated that as long as it was not a snake she was okay with possums or even rats. Meantime the native guide quietly and privately insisted a) that possums don't give a rat's ass for toilet paper, b) that ratones do for nesting material, and c) the administrators have no idea what they are talking about.
Among the jungle birding attractions are clay licks where many kinds of macaws and parrots come to eat or drink minerals in clay needed to make their digestive systems work. Having seen one such lick with three species of parrots in action we looked forward to the next day's visit to another one on the other side of the Rio Napo and deep into a tribal area where many more species congregate, sometimes in their hundreds. The thing about the licks, however, is the birds are very picky about the timing of their visits, and at the second lick we reached after a long hike the birds like to arrive at 10 and leave about 11 am. So we were very hopeful on hearing flocks of parrots drawing closer and closer in the canopy. Then at 9:47 a herd of around 60 noisy and foul smelling wild pigs arrived and took over the lick. The parrots were not having any sharing of the lick with what the guide labeled "pinches" pigs (translation highly inappropriate). Thus we left in urgent need of a shower (and a peek at the latest location of the toilet paper).
Reluctantly we left La Selva after adding 90 new birds to our world list. And what was the spa for? Well try looking up into trees for ten - twelve hours a day; your neck will tell you.
So back upriver in the motorized canoe to Coca from where alarming news of delays in TAME's scheduled departure had been arriving for hours, making one suspect that perhaps the military will have to seek another way to get around. But after a several hour delay TAME finally hauled our fingernail eating selves over the mountains and back to Quito.
Black tailed trainbearer Hummingbird Violet Tailed Sylph Hummingbird
San Jorge and Tandayapa
The next five days were to be divided between the San Jorge birding lodge in the mountains above Quito (hence at over 9,000 feet) and its sister lodge, Tandayapa, in the plunging canons of rain forest at 5,000 feet on the western slopes of the Andes. Although the former yielded many varieties of hummingbirds (Quito's symbol is the hummingbird) and quite a few other species, the "yield" was less than the jungle and the possibilities of cardiac arrest far higher. Slogging around looking for birds at 9,000 feet seriously challenges lungs acclimated to sea level. Although coca tea kept nausea and headache at bay, oxygen deprivation was a constant companion. Furthermore our first night at San Jorge was spent in a room with a definite sewer gas problem which forced an unfortunate choice between deep breathing to overcome the oxygen deficiency and over inhaling volatile, if not poisonous gas.
Golden Rumped Euphonia Masked Trogon
On to Tandayapa where the birding was amazing. But then so were other things. On reaching the parking area we were faced with a 100 yard walk to the lodge. Not to worry, however, one of a crew of workers shoveling crushed stone swept up our baggage and effortlessly carried it to our room. To our surprise the same sixty-ish looking man appeared in a formal waiter's uniform at dinner. When the next day our sink required some repairs, his wife, the cook, appeared with plumber's tools. Meantime in reference to the same fellow, his four year old granddaughter explained to us that just the other day he had carved up an immense anaconda with his machete. "He is" she very seriously informed us "muy valiente". His wife/plumber/cook proved too accomplished in the last role, and hopes of weight loss from all the exercise were dashed. Over several days Tandayapa yielded many different types of hummingbirds and extraordinary other species as well.
Plate billed Mountain Toucan
Golden Naped Tanager
On our late afternoon return to San Jorge lodge above Quito, freezing from a soaking on leaving Tandayapa, we were escorted to a new room (our mention of the sewer gas apparently having been taken seriously). There in that section ot the hotel, 50 yards above our old room and the dining room, the rooms were larger and more interestingly chocked full of Ecuadorian antique furniture. However they also came equipped with a sign saying "run tap for 10 minutes to get hot water". After running ours for 30 minutes, no signs of even tepid water had appeared, and our chill had reached dramatic proportions. Then appeared the night watchman to light the court yard exterior lights. Informed of the water problem shortly he reappeared to repair the hot water heater. After the treacherous climb down to the main lodge for dinner, we were not in the least surprised to find him in a formal waiter's uniform serving the hot soup of the evening.
Red Barbet -Male Booted Racket Tail Hummingbird
Off the birding topic to the extent we have been on it, our last day in Ecuador, we spent in the historic zone of old Quito with our young female guide (who was wearing jeans fashionably ripped in the way that American kids used to in an effort to signal each other and to craze parents who had just spent good money for unblemished jeans). The entire area is a UNESCO Patrimony of the World site, and the 16-17th century churches have stunningly decorated interiors. It was a Sunday and the streets were jammed with music and dancing groups, vendors of all manner of goods and foods, and religious processions. Celebrating the day of Our Senor of Justice were indigenous processions and those of the TAME owning Army, the Police, and the Quito fire department whose band was playing a sorrowful dirge based on Simon and Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence. Quito has sprawled up the surrounding hills and valleys, and its 3 million inhabitants generate too much traffic and poor air quality, but its zona historica should not be missed. We recommend the Hotel Carlota.
The next day was marked for a 4 am. departure from San Jorge Lodge to the Quito airport and a 7 am. flight to Miami. After some anxious moments while the driver, not surprisingly the waiter of the night before, struggled to get the doors to the van to open, and after a wholly unexpected "Buenos dias senores" from the back seat uttered by the cook who seemed to have spent the night in the van hoping for a ride to the city, the remainder of the trip was uneventful. Total product, lots of entertainment and 170 new species.
AWE Owl Watch Program
Do you love Owls? Do you want to help protect this Florida Species of Special Concern?
Help support our Owl Watch Program!
Photo by Jean Hall
History of Burrowing Owls on Marco Island
When the City of Marco Island began monitoring owls in 2001, only a handful were present on the island. Now there are over 185 burrow sites with over 400 owls even with urban development at an all time high!
Audubon of the Western Everglades is proud to have taken over this program from the city now called
Owl Watch Program to help protect this charismatic owl who has been upgraded to a "
Threatened Species" in Florida by FWC.
Florida's burrowing owls dig their burrows in vacant lots and open spaces, and are year round residents. The local population breeds between February and July but some do rear their young outside of these months.
Special permits are required for removal or relocation of burrows.
Burrowing owls can be of special benefit in urban settings since they consume insects, including roaches and mole crickets. They also eat amphibians and rodents.
Burrowing Owl Facts
- Only species of owl to nest underground
- Burrows are up to 3 feet deep and 5-12 feet long
- Return to the same burrows each year
- Once partners are chosen, they mate for life
- Oldest know owl was 9 year and 11 months
- They are about 9 inches tall, the size of a water bottle
- They are diurnal and nocturnal, hunts day and night.
- They are protected under the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, are a Florida species of special concern and are a protected species through the City of Marco Island.
Please report malicious destruction or harassment of burrowing owls or their burrows to:
How do you get involved:
- Sponsor the Owl Watch maintenance crew and Owl Watch by donating to AWE for a equipment needed to maintain the burrows, signs to post at the burrow and supplies needed to mark around a burrow area.
- Contribute to our upcoming Children's Education Program "Wild Marco" which educates our Youth on native critters including Burrowing Owls.
- If you want to attract a burrow in your yard, we can supply you with a starter burrow kit.
- E-Mail email@example.com to get more information
Please help us save these beautiful creatures!
Conservation Report By: Brad Cornell
Terns, Skimmers and Plovers Have Started Nesting - Shorebird Stewards Needed
Every year, thousands of Least Terns, Black Skimmers, Wilson's Plovers and Snowy Plovers put on their finest feathers and return from their winter sanctuaries to nest on Southwest Florida beaches. Two of the most important beach nesting colonies in all of Florida are protected and stewarded by Audubon of the Western Everglades and Audubon of Southwest Florida volunteer stewards - on Marco Island at Sand Dollar and the south end of Ft. Myers Beach, next to Big Carlos Pass. They are already protected by Critical Wildlife Areas, but there is a critical need on weekends to educate and intervene where boats, beachgoers, and often dogs end up in unintentional conflict with these big nesting colonies. We are also collecting data on what disturbs these imperiled birds - in addition to humans, kiteboards and dogs, there are crows, storms, feral cats and raccoons. These data help us plan better to protect the colonies.
Please consider getting trained and joining our volunteer Shorebird Stewardship crew! Training this year will take place on Saturday and Sunday, April 22 and 23 from 9am - 11am:
Sat, April 22, 9 - 11am: Tigertail Beach County Park at the Boardwalk Benches Kiosk area.
Sun, April 23, 9 - 11am: Lovers Key State Park at the Gazebo picnic table area, via shuttle.
Shorebird Stewards Dick & Barb Sheerer
Training will include updates on our nesting colony locations, beach nesting bird biology from Audubon Florida's coastal bird biologist, Adam DiNuovo, outreach strategies and practice, and meeting our two new Anchor Stewards just hired by Audubon Florida - Collier biologist Alli Smith and a Lee biologist yet to be named.
Come join us for a not-to-be-missed fun and vital nesting season!
AWE ALERT!! - Save Rookery Bay!
Audubon of the Western Everglades members and friends are urgently asked to contact our Congressional representatives and senators to request they refuse to make the Administration-proposed cuts to federal coastal zone programs that fund the major portions of Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) and the other 28 NERR's around the nation. Such Fiscal Year 2017 and 2018 cuts would eliminate research, education, professional training, watershed protection, and elected officials briefing on estuarine policy.
The 110,000 acre Rookery Bay Reserve was protected 45 years ago by all of us in Southwest Florida, led by National Audubon Society and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. We understand the value of pristine estuaries to our water, our fishing and tourism economy, and our quality of life. We have also witnessed the unfortunate consequences of NOT taking care of these estuaries in Florida Bay, the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers, and even Naples Bay.
Please help assure Congress fully funds the ongoing work of Rookery Bay Reserve which more than pays for its costs in economic and ecological returns. Do it as soon as possible before April 15. Here are our Southwest Florida congressional delegation contacts:
Points to consider in your brief, personal email could include:
* Rookery Bay is one of the few remaining pristine estuaries in the nation, providing for recreational boating and sportfishing, and an essential refuge for wildlife
* Rookery Bay supports thousands of local jobs and generates millions of dollars through tourism, recreational boating and sportfishing
* Loss of federal funds will eliminate staff and close facilities - "pennywise and pound foolish" in economic terms.
* With increasing sea levels, storms and coastal erosion, federal coastal programs like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA - Rookery Bay's federal agency) must be funded - this is fundamental national security
Education-FGCU Wings of Hope
FGCU Wings of Hope Environmental Education Spring Semester Program
BREAKING NEWS !!
Florida Panther Posse Program----Educated over 5,000 4th /5th grade students
CREW Hiking Adventure--- Hiked over 3,500 4th /5th grade students
(90% of students have never been on a hiking trail)
Audubon Explores Bird Adventure Program--- 150 3rd grade students
Presented by FGCU Environmental Humanities Students, Wings of Hope staff, and Volunteers--- Over 250
Educating others after the programs by the students--- Over 17,500
Painting over 3,500 Nature Rocks, placed at CREW for awareness & education
Never Say Goodbye Florida Panther Poster Contest Posters by local high schools: Displayed or traveling to Collier & Lee County Government Complex, Collier County School Board Administration Complex, Several events held all over Florida, and the Florida Capitol Rotunda.
First Place Winner for Never Say Goodbye Poster contest
Mrs. Ricky Pires/Director
Education-Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Thanks to a generous grant from Hertz, Corkscrew's education department has a new intern. Her name is Ginger Allen. She shares her passion and enthusiasm with the students on each tour she guides and has been a great addition to our team.
"Is it real?" one of the 5th graders asked while holding up a bobcat pelt. "Well, it was once real, but now it's not" replied the guide that I was shadowing. It was one of my first days as an Environmental Education Intern at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, and I was so struck by this conversation. The pelt was authentic, though I knew exactly what he meant to say. This place is poetic. Each day I work here, I am inspired.
Before coming to Corkscrew, death and living were different. I have a Bachelors of Science degree in Forensic Studies, but while attending University I fell in love with Environmental Education. After graduation, I briefly lived in Romania studying human remains from the 15th through 17th Centuries. Studying thousands of fragmentary bones taught me a different type of patience
Each tour was to be started with a brief introduction. After going through our rules came the best part, "Welcome to my backyard". A perk of the job, my on-site home was once lived in by Alexander Sprunt, Jr and many Audubon wardens. There is history in its pine walls. I consider my porch to be the North Lettuce Lake off of our boardwalk, and can regularly be seen reading there.
Feeding frenzies cause frenzied students. I was especially overjoyed when the spoonbills came back, they are one of my favorite beautifully strange birds.
For our 5th grade programs, we are scientists before lunch and after lunch we become explorers. The boardwalk does not hamper our imagination as we go into these prehistoric lands with 700 year old trees. Our 2nd grade program centers around insects and their eyes light up knowing that there is a special trail here that is only for them. Our volunteers are the heart of the program and I know I am leaving behind a great team.
The last few days have been especially bittersweet. I grew up in Collier County and went on the same field trip that I am now leading students through. I have known when my end date was going to be since I started here, but I was uncertain about what I was going to do when it was over. While several miles into the swamp while on an exploration trip, I got a phone call offering me a job to be a National Park Service interpretive guide. I know without my time at Corkscrew Swamp, my dreams of working with the National Park Service would have been almost unattainable but part of me doesn't want to leave. Florida is dynamic as it fluctuates between the wet and the dry season and I must be the same. I know I will be back. One day. There is still a good fight here, and inspiring organizations like Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Audubon of the Western Everglades. We have not lost the battle. And through Environmental Education, we are making sure that our passion lives on.
For program information please visit
Thank you Audubon of the Western Everglades for your continued support!
Support Our Local Chapter
Since we are an independent Chapter of National Audubon Society, and only receive minimal funding from National.
Our Chapter is solely responsible for raising our own funds through fund raising and donations made by our members and your Chapter membership helps too!
Supporting us at the local level so we can continue to offer you 6 Programs per season on interesting topics in nature, habitats, conservation issues and specific bird and animal species. And don't forget our nature & birding Field Trips we offer each season that are led by knowledgeable local experts to some beautiful locations in and around Collier County.
If you haven't renewed your Chapter membership yet, click on the link below.
Get a Chapter Only Membership today!
Thank you for your continued support!
Additional Talks have been Added!!!
If you miss the Program you can hear Adam again talk on May 25th, 2017 at South Regional Library.
Register for The Amazimg Journey of Shorebirds and Seabirds on www.collierlibrary.org
(Pick South Regional Library then Go to Programs, and scroll down in calendar to May 25th description) or
AWE is pleased to introduce a NEW Board Member
Many of you know her as the woman who has for seven years, organized and led, (with her husband Bills' help) the birding trips for our organization as a Field Trip Coordinator. This year she added her skills to the silent auction committee and helped obtain some fun & exciting trips and some beautiful art objects. Additionally she has arranged several lectures at the South Regional Library,and even found the time to to help with a workshop for the
Audubon Explorer Program for 150 3rd Graders.
Throughout her career she has woven the threads of environmental science into her work, encouraging healthy lifestyle choices, healthy foods and habits in the children's programs, training parents to educate their children to enjoy the outdoors as a learning laboratory, developing sustainable fresh water supplies and encouraging people to support the organizations that enrich our lives through providing a healthy environment and lifestyle. She hopes to serve the BOD by broadening the educational experiences for the public and spreading the word about the amazing work that AWE has been doing to protect this community and state for the last 60 plus years.
Join us in welcoming Roberta to our Board!
Birding Out and About
Submissions from members that we thought you would like.
By Ken Humiston
I watched this Spoon Bill and Great Egret (attachment) for quite a while. Wherever the Egret was feeding, the Spoonbill figured there must lots of food, so he/she? would wade over and chase the Egret away. The egret would land nearby and the Spoonbill, feeding and waving its bill back and forth the whole time, would again wade over to where the Egret was and chase it. This happened 4 or 5 times and was quite amusing.
Another great shot of Great Egret in breeding plumage.
Both pictures were taken at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
Saturday, April 1st-Kirby Storter Park & Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
Saturday, April 8th- Flamingos-RESERVATIONS REQUIRED
Saturday, April 15th-Eagle Lakes Park
Saturday, April 29th-Naples Lakes CC-RESERVATIONS REQUIRED
Saturday, May 6th-North Collier Regional Park
Saturday, May 20th-Sugden Park
Saturday, June 24th-Tigertail Beach Nesting Shore Birds-RESERVATIONS REQUIRED
Humiston & Moore Engineering for once again sponsoring our Programs for the
Defending Southwest Florida's Natural Resources & Wildlife
Advocating for Responsible Land Usage,
Advocating for Water Quality/Quantity in
Homes, Businesses & Natural Habitats,
Advocating for Protection of Nature & Wildlife,
Advocating on Issues Relating to Climate
Change, Sea Level Rise, and Improved Energy Policies.
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