About Our Locations

Here you will find information about our stewarding locations, as well as other shorebird nesting sits sin Collier County. In the future, additional sites may be added to the steward project. All shorebird nesting sites are posting with “symbolic fencing”–posts with string and neon flagging strung between them. Signs on the posts state that the area is a bird site and people (and dogs and vehicles) are not allowed to enter. Two of the sites, Big Marco Pass and Caxambas Pass, are state-designated critical wildlife areas (CWAs). This designation adds a layer of legal protection for wildlife using these areas.

Stewarding Sites | Nesting Sites

Stewarding Sites

For the 2011 stewarding season, we are using two sites as steward stations, the Lagoon and the Gulf. Both are accessible via Tigertail County Park on Marco Island. The park is located at the end of Hernando Drive and requires a beach parking permit (available for free to county residents) or an $8 parking fee. If birds nest in the condo are posting, stewards will work there as well, and corresponding information will be posted.

At the Lagoon site, stewards walk a short distance from the paved parking lot to the shore of Tigertail Lagoon. There they set up chairs and (if desired) umbrellas. Restrooms and a concession stand are a few minutes’ walk away. Many visitors wade across the lagoon at this spot in order to access the Gulf beach. They cross the lagoon near an orange buoy, which is near the stewarding site, so it’s easy for stewards to talk to many visitors.

The Gulf site’s exact location varies with the location of the birds and how far the stewards want to walk. The birds choose slightly different nesting areas every year, so it’s hard to predict how far stewards will have to walk to get to the nearest colony. It’s best if stewards can get to an active colony and talk to beach-goers there. To accomplish this, stewards have the choice of wading across the lagoon to get to the Gulf side or walking south around the southern end of the lagoon (past the South Seas condos). Because of the distance (and/or the wading), stewards at the Gulf site often take less with them. However, it’s up to each individual to decide what they’d like to bring.

Nesting Sites

Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area | Caxambas Pass Critical Wildlife Area | Key Island | Marco City Beach | Second Chance Sandbar

Big Marco Pass Critical Wildlife Area Stewarding site!

Location Description: The Big Marco Pass CWA is posted every year by the FWC for beach-nesting birds, and portions of the Tigertail Lagoon are posted year-round for feeding birds. The lagoon is a critical stop-over area for migrating shorebirds, while the beach provides some of the best nesting habitat in Collier County. The sand spit that extends north from Tigertail Lagoon is called Sand Dollar Island, harking back to the days when the sand spit was not connected with the Marco beach. The CWA is is accessible by boat, by the Marco beach, and by Collier County’s Tigertail Park. Visitors enjoy wading across the lagoon to the Gulf, sunbathing, and walking the beach. In fact, there are many regular walkers (and joggers) who add to the mix.

2010 Nesting Species: Least Tern, Black Skimmer, Wilson’s Plover

Caxambas Pass Critical Wildlife Area

Location Description: Caxambas Pass is on the south end of Marco Island and is accessible by boat. The Caxambas boat ramp is the closest put-in point. The active shoal and sandbar system there formed an island that has became a favorite spot for nesting birds. It was designated as a critical wildlife area, and during the nesting season is posted no landing to all vessels (kayaks and canoes included).

2010 Nesting Species: Least Tern, Wilson’s Plover

Key Island

Location Description: Key Island is one of the largest unbridged barrier islands in Florida. It reaches from Gordon Pass nearly to Big Marco Pass, and its south tip has hosted tern colonies of varying sizes througout the years. It is also a favorite destination for boaters. Rookery Bay N.E.R.R. posts the nesting area every year.

2010 Nesting Species: Least Tern, Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover

Marco City Beach

Location Description: The area in front of the Southseas condos began to be used by Least Terns and Black Skimmers in 2008. The birds returned in 2009, but did not nest in the area in 2010, although the area was posted by the City of Marco.

2010 Nesting Species: none

Second Chance Sandbar

Location Description: The area just south of Cape Romano is a dynamic, highly changable shoal system. A sandbar periodically appears and disappears, and when it is emergent, it’s called Second Chance. Depending on its elevation (if it’s too low storms will overwash it), terns, skimmers, and plovers will attempt nesting on it. When they do, Rookery Bay N.E.R.R. posts the colony.

2010 Nesting Species: Least Tern, Wilson’s Plover


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