As part of the Great Florida Birding Trail, Tigertail Beach and Sand Dollar Spit provide extensive exposure to a variety of birds throughout the year, attracting birders from around the world. Saturday, January 5 was a perfect day for bird watching, and 39 area residents and visitors took advantage of a free “Breakfast and Birds” presentation at the beach, sponsored by Friends of Tigertail. Participants included adults and children, and came from as far away as the Midwest and Northeast, including one family of seven from Illinois. Saturday’s topic was “winter residents,” reviewing avian species that call Marco Island home during the colder months. Presenters Fran Huxley and Susan Kubat expertly reviewed information regarding the winter species, then took the group to the lagoon beach to learn how to identify the birds using physical characteristics as well as behavioral clues. Initially few birds were present, but eleven different species of wading and shorebirds eventually made appearances, delighting the group. Two occurrences were especially memorable. The osprey couple populating the platform on the beach were busy bringing materials to complete building their nest. A solitary laughing gull was quiet at first, but shortly after the presenters described their unique call, the gull began singing loudly. This brought another gull in, and then a third, all producing their “laughing song.” They stayed on the beach for the duration of the presentation.
The Friends of Tigertail group is committed to preserving and enhancing the beach, and educating the public about it’s unique features. Besides two annual “Breakfast and Birds” presentations, the organization hosts other programs during the season. The next is “Discover Tigertail,” a family friendly event planned for Saturday, February 23, from 9 AM to 12 noon. Interactive stations will teach participants about the treasures of Tigertail and Marco Island, including information about birds, tortoises, turtles, animal rehabilitation, shells, and more. Children will enjoy decorating beach pails, which they can then use in a scavenger hunt. The Friends’ group also sponsors quarterly beach clean-ups, the next of which is Saturday, April 13.