Honeymoon Island State Park Wildlife Updates *Updated August 2016
Sea Turtles
American Bald Eagle Nesting Activity
American Bald Eagle NestingThe 2018-19 season 1s the 12th consecutive year for eagles to nest on the island. Historically, there was a nest reported at the Scharrer homestead, and the female eagle was reported to have been shot on the nest, according to a Clearwater Sun article and notes from Myrtle Scharrer Betz in 1935. This new nesting occurance was the first time eagles have reestablished nesting on the island since the 1935 homestead nest.

Eagles may live up to 40 years. Once mating occurs, after 5 days of internal gestation, the first leg is ready to be laid. Eggs are laid 36 hours apart, Both male and female incubate. Average gestation in the egg is 35 days, with eggs hatching one at a time 36 hours apart. Eaglets remain in nest 10 to 12 weeks. Both parents feed young. Fledglings broaden their range slightly away from the nest over a period of 4 to 8 weeks. Young become independent of parents for food at approximately 17 to 20 weeks.

Eagle Nesting 2018-2019:
An adult Eagle returned September 2, 2018 and was observed perched on the nature center building, and at the nest site tree on the osprey trail.

Eagle Nesting 2017-2018:
Eagles returned in September, and were observed perched on and around the nest tree site throughout the nesting season, however they did not produce any young this season. (Last Updated end of June 2018)

Eagle Nesting 2016-2017:
Summer 2016 - Micro burst storm blew down nest
10/01/16 - Eagles returned, built new nest in new location
10/12/16 - Eagles mated (with no results)
11/14/16 - Eggs laid - approx. 35 days incubation.
12/23/16 - Eggs hatched - Feeding young (number of chicks to be determined)
01/12/17 - Chick mortality - Chick(s) died, eagles may renest. This occured last season as well.
01/25/17 - 
Eggs laid - approx. 35 days incubation7
03/16/17 - Eggs hatched - 2 chicks
05/23/17 - Eaglets still in and around nest, readying to fledge.
06/08/17 - Eaglets Fledged
Great Horned Owl Nesting Activity
Osprey2 resident adult Great Horned Owls are present on the island this season. They again selected the same previous osprey nest used used 2 years ago. The site is .3 miles from the trailhead on the west side of the trail.

Mating occurs in late December to January. 3 to 4 eggs are laid in January or February. Incubation averages 28 to 35 days. They hatch over a period of time corresponding to the time the eggs were laid. The female incubates while the male hunts and protects the nest. He continues to fend for the family once the owlets hatch. Owlets open eyes at 1 week. They first leave nest in 4 to 5 weeks. They remain nest the nest and fledge fully at 10 weeks. They will remain perched on limbs, and in their parents are for up to 1 year, when they are then sexually mature.

Great Horned Owl Nesting 2017-2018:
October 2018 - Owls observed together as mated pair in park.
1/11/18 - Owls first observed in nest.
03/16/18 - 2 Owlets fledged

Great Horned Owl Nesting
10/14/16 - Owls observed in park
1/11/18 - Owls observed in park

Osprey Nesting Activity
OspreyOsprey nests are sometimes prone to storm damage, and over the years active nest counts differ. The many dead pines, or "snags" provide potential nesting opportunities, while the surrounding waters are warm and shallow, ideal for the osprey, whose diet is comprised of 99% fish. When building and repairing nests, these birds prefer to snap off dead limbs in flight, rather than collecting downed wood from the ground. They are capable of being fierce and are renowned for their ability to defend their nests and fend off foe such as marauding American Bald Eagles that attempt to steal the Ospreys catch of fish. The 3.5 mile Osprey Trail located at the picnic area is aptly named.

Osprey Nesting 2017-2018:  
As of 03/24/18 - 10 Active Nests

Osprey Nesting 2016-2017:  

01/30/17 - 10 Active Nests
05/10/17 - 13 Active Nests

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting Activity

Loggerhead Sea Turtle NestingNesting season runs from May through October. Daily beach patrols are conducted during this time, and nests are protected by a wire cage to prevent predation from raccoons, ghost crabs, and other would be predators, and to prevent disturbance by beach goers. Loggerheads prefer the warmer sandy beach areas further south of here. The barrier islands this far north along the west coast are typically not heavily used nesting sites, and for this reason only a few Loggerhead nests are observed on our Islands each year. It is estimated that only 1 in 1000 hatchlings survive to adulthood. Part of the survival success depends upon natural resource management practices.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting 2018:  6 Honeymoon Island - 8 Caladesi - 10 Anclote - 118 Egmont Key Updates July 2018

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting 
2 Honeymoon Island - 6 Caladesi - 1 Anclote

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting 2016: 12 Honeymoon Island - 12 Caladesi Island  - 2 Anclote Key Lighthouse Preserve

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting Activity

Kemps Ridley - Caladesi 2016Named for avid fisherman and naturalist Richard Kemp of Key West. Typically, this tropical species is not observed nesting here. They nest en mass in armadas, on windy days at Rancho Nuevo in the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. They do, however commonly migrate throughout the Gulf of Mexico from April thru September, and are sometimes seen as far north as Nova Scotia. Again, they typically do not nest in these areas. There are reports of sightings in Ireland as well. Juveniles have a vast deeper water range, with adults found in a more limited nearshore range. They reach maturity as sub adults at 12 years. It is a rare and critically endangered species, primarily due to human activities such as egg poaching, trawl nets, gill nets, entanglement, and boat strikes.

There was a previous incident of nesting in 2015 at Caladesi, and also in 2007 at Anclote, and this year's nest is the 2nd known case at Caladesi. They are daytime nesters, with the nesting process taking only 45 minutes on average. Adults grow to about 2 feet in length and an average weight of 89 lbs. They feed in shallow waters and as juveniles they feed at the weed line and floating mats of sargassum weed, whereby adults are primarily bottom feeders and prefer crabs and some mollusks, jellyfish and urchins.

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting 2016: None as of 06/08/17

Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle Nesting 2016:
1 Kemp's Ridley at Caladesi Island

Shorebird Nesting Activity

Nesting Shorebirds2018 Shoebord Nesting Season
2018 3 Rooker Bar Observations -
Least Tern 100 Nests 50 Chicks
Black Skimmer 250/125
Royal Tern  500/250
Sandwich Tern 50/25
Caspian Tern 12/20
*American Oystercatchers observed on all islands nesting
*Wilsons & Snowy Plovers nesting on Honeymoon & Anclote

2017 Shoebord Nesting Season

05/25/17 - An American Oystercather nest site has been observed at Honeymoon north beach.
06/02/17 - Snowy Plover and Wilson's Plover chicks have hatched.

2016 Shoebord Nesting Season
End of season update from August 2016 - Shorebirds are fledging right now. The Three Rooker colonies hatched over 10,000 laughing gull chicks, 1000 Royal tern, 250 Sandwich tern, 250 Black skimmer, and 20 Caspian tern. Anclote Key always has the high numbers for Wilson’s and Snowy plover, easily 30 juveniles seen there last count. American oystercatcher are having a 2nd bad year in a row, 7 nesting attempts, 5 chicks hatched, none have survived to fledge. Predators and overwash are the two biggest known factors affecting success. One final round of surveys this week to look for more chicks!