Honeymoon Island State Park Wildlife Updates *Updated August 2016
Sea Turtles
American Bald Eagle Nesting Activity
American Bald Eagle NestingThe 2019-2020 season is the 13th 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 2019-2020:
Honeymoon Island
Nov 2020 - Returning adult eagles were first observed.
Jan 11, 2020 - Incubation began.
Feb 14, 2020 - Hatchlings emerged.
Feb 17, 2020 - Feeding behavior was observed for a period of one week, after which there was no more activity, cause undetermined.
Anclote Key
February 2020 - Hatched
June 2020 - 2 juveniles fledged

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.

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
Great Horned Owl2 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 2019-2020:
Honeymoon Island
Honeymoon Island's pair started incubating eggs in January, which hatched in February and fledgied 2 owlets in March.
Anclote Key
Owls were observed incubating, no fledging observed
Active nest observed, outcome unknown

Great Horned Owl Nesting
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 2019-2020:  Honeymoon 9 Active Nests - Caladesi 1 nest - Egmont 9 nests

Osprey Nesting 2018-2019: 10 Active Nests

Osprey Nesting 2017-2018: 
10 Active Nests

Osprey Nesting 2016-2017: 
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 2019-2020: 9 at Anclote Key - 14 at Honeymoon with lots of raccoon predation - 10 at Caladesi - 65+ at Egmont Key

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Nesting 
6 Honeymoon Island - 8 Caladesi - 10 Anclote - 118 Egmont Key 

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 2019 - 2020: None observed on the islands this season.

Shorebird Nesting Activity
Nesting Shorebirds2019- 2020 Shorebird Nesting Season
Least Terns - A colony of 50 birds was established on Honeymoon Island at pet beach during COVID-19 closure in May. The colony dissapeared once the park reopened to the public.
Black Skimmers - There was a colony of 50 black skimmers on pet beach at Honeymoon and
during COVID-19 closure in May. The colony dissapeared once the park reopened to the public. 
There are 2 other nesting groups compromised of 200 adults, 50 nests on north 3 Rooker bar, as well as 110 adults with 40 nests on south 3 Rooker Bar.
Royal Terns - There were 3000 adults with1300 nests on south 3 Rooker Bar, and 300 adults with 100 nests onnorth 3 Rooker Bar. There were chicks in June, and they were flying by July.
Sandwich Terns - There were 400 adults and 200 nests on south 3 Rooker Bar, with 200 chicks fledging in July.
Caspian Terns - There were 25 adults  and 12 nests with chicks on south 3 Rooker Bar in July.
American Oystercatchers - There were nesting attempts on all islands, however only 2 chicks were found on south 3 Rooker Bar.
Snowy Egrets - There were 5 nesting pairs on Anclote Key incubating in July. 2 chicks were observed at Caladesi Island in July, and there was 1 nesting attempt at Honeymoon Island.
Wilson's Plovers - Mated pairs were observed on all islands, with nests difficult to confirm. Chicks were observed at Honeymoon Island, Anclote Key and Caladesi
Laughing Gulls - 5000 adults with 2500 nests were observed on 3 Rooker Bar
, with chicks in April that fledged in July.

2018 Shorebird Nesting Season

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 Shorebird 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 Shorebird 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 Plovers, easily 30 juveniles seen there last count. American Oystercatchers 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!