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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Monthly eNewsletter
Aerial view of a large black bird soaring over treetops
Swallow-tailed Kites Have Returned
It's official! The first Swallow-tailed Kites of the season have been seen and heard flying over the Sanctuary. These majestic raptors spend the fall and winter in South America and are now making their way back to breeding areas in Florida and the southeastern U.S. 

Learn more about Swallow-tailed Kites.
Swallow-tailed Kite. Photo: R J Wiley
Aerial view of nests in treetops
We Have Chicks at the Wood Stork Colony!
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary team conducted the fourth Wood Stork survey flight of the 2023 nesting season on March 10. From a small plane, staff spotted nesting activity at three of the five known colony sites in Southwest Florida. The three sites with activity were BC-29 (west of SR-29, north of the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge), Lenore Island (Caloosahatchee River, west of I-75), and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. While the nests are not visible from our boardwalk, visitors can see Wood Storks flying overhead.

Many Wood Stork chicks at the Corkscrew colony appear to be two to four weeks old, although because Wood Stork nesting is asynchronous (they nest at different times) some storks are still incubating eggs. Chicks typically fledge eight weeks after hatching and must fledge before the onset of the rainy season to be successful. The next flight is scheduled for early April.
Wood Stork nests in bald cypress trees at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary on March 10.
A group of people standing in a circle listening
Prescribed Fire Training Hosted at the Sanctuary
Every year, fire practitioners from throughout North America meet in the southeastern U.S. in partnership with the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center (NIPFTC). The goal? To build relationships, improve skills, and expand our collective knowledge of prescribed fire operations. Multiple agencies, including non-governmental, state, federal, tribal, and international, gain experience and expertise through the partnership with NIPFTC.

In 2023, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s Prescribed Fire Team engaged with the NIPFTC for the first time. The team that worked with us came from Alaska, Colorado, Canada, and more. Partnerships like this are vital for making strides in conservation and preserving biodiversity within special places like Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. We are thankful for the support and cooperation of the National Interagency Prescribed Fire Training Center and look forward to more successful burns in the future.
Prescribed fire personnel at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
A smoky view of a forest at sunset
Safety Corner: Dry Weather Curtails Prescribed Fire Season
In February, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary recorded the lowest monthly rainfall since 1971—about one-tenth of an inch. In fact, every month since September, our rainfall has been below average. While swamp water levels are currently within the typical range for the past two decades, they are falling quickly and when combined with high daytime temperatures, are leaving many areas very dry. Because fire danger is increasing, Lee, Collier, and Hendry counties have all issued burn bans. This means that residents in these counties are prohibited from burning yard waste—one of the leading causes of wildfires in Florida. These dry conditions have also brought the winter burn season at the Sanctuary to a close.

Read on to learn about current water levels at the swamp and how to protect your property and wildlife from wildfire.
Smoke from a prescribed fire.
A smiling man wearing camouflage clothes standing in front of a forest.
Meet George McKenzie
George McKenzie, Jr. was born in Guyana and grew up in Brooklyn, where his interactions with wildlife were few and far between. His career in photography began as an assistant event photographer, and after several years in the industry, a chance encounter with renowned National Geographic photographer Carlton Ward, Jr. changed everything. Shortly thereafter, George was on a train from Penn Station to Florida: first to Sebring, and then on to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. As a member of Carlton’s team, George works with camera traps to tell the story about the importance of land conservation through the eyes of an apex predator, the Florida panther.
George McKenzie, wildlife photographer.
An owl in a tree cavity.
Great News for Collier County Conservation
In late February, we asked for your help. You told the Collier County Board of County Commissioners to approve the purchase of Conservation Collier's top-ranked land acquisition parcels. We are excited to report that your emails and attendance made a difference! After an intense round of emails, phone calls, separate meetings, and speaking before the Commission, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve all the ranked properties to be purchased!

This was important for two reasons – first, the program is put back on the timely buying track after the disruption of Hurricane Ian, and second, this cycle contains the most ambitious conservation parcels ever pursued, including a Swallow-tailed Kite roost near Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and the 7,300-acre Owl Hammock parcel within the Okaloacoochee Slough, which is outstanding Florida panther and Wood Stork habitat.
Eastern Screech-Owl. Photo: Arnie Collens
Scroll past the news for more information and events!
in the news graphic
Romantic Destinations in Florida Where You Can Unplug, Enjoy Simple Pleasures, and Immerse Yourself in Nature
Naples: Although Naples may not be the first town that comes to mind when you think of romance, it has more than its fair share of adventurous excursion offerings for those who enjoy boating or fishing. Because of its location by the Gulf of Mexico, its waters are beautiful, and it offers The Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge to nature lovers.

Corkscrew SIGHTINGS: Awards ceremony honors state conservation leaders
Every year, Audubon Florida recognizes the state’s leading conservationists with a suite of annual awards. This year, awards were presented both virtually and as part of a small, local ceremony in Southwest Florida held at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in December.

Florida panther NatGeo film spotlights Southwest Florida: 5 things to know
"Path of the Panther" features Southwest Florida prominently, with about three-fourths of the documentary filmed in the region. This included the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County, along with the Fakahatchee Strand ecosystem in the refuge; Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, north of Naples and east of Bonita Springs; and Babcock Ranch State Preserve in Charlotte County.
The Best Group Day Trips from Boca with Falcon Charter Bus
Naples is also a wonderful location for nature lovers. Hop on your bus rental and shuttle between locations like the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Rookery Bay, and Big Cypress.

The ghost orchid’s current range in Florida includes the Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge, Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park, Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and additional conservation and tribal areas in Collier, Hendry and possibly Lee counties.

Swamp hikes? Yes, you can do that in SWFL. Here are five you should try
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary In this Collier County must-see stop, more than two miles of boardwalk wind through pines and wet prairies past a marsh and into the largest old-growth bald cypress stand in the U.S. Visitors to the Audubon-run sanctuary can glimpse a plethora of songbirds including the brilliant painted bunting.
Great egrets squabbling at their nest
South Florida Water Management District Releases 2021 South Florida Wading Bird Report
Wading birds need the right combination of wet and dry conditions throughout the year to breed successfully. Scientists estimated that wading birds initiated almost 102,000 nests in South Florida during the 2021 nesting season—more than twice the 10-year average of 48,000 nests.

While Wood Storks successfully fledged chicks from 18 nests at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in 2021, the year’s nesting effort represented only 18% of the five-year average for this historic colony and <1% of the average annual nesting seen at the Corkscrew Colony in the 1960s.
Great Egrets. Photo: Charles Lee
People with cameras on the boardwalk.
NEW: Photography Classes
We are hosting new photography classes to help you capture wonderful memories and moments of your experience at Corkscrew Swamp. Our photography instructor will help you take quality images that are well-focused, well-composed, and well-lit and address many aspects of composition and lighting through “image-making” on the boardwalk. Take all three classes, which is highly recommended, or register for one or two. You will learn something new in each class.
Photography class. Photo: Christine Cook
Events and Other News
Give Where You Live Collier promo collage
Thank You for Your Support!
Last month, Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was one of only 37 nonprofits selected to participate in Give Where You Live Collier Day—a 24-hour, online fundraiser that encourages everyone to give back to the places that make the community special. This day of giving was hosted by the Collier Community Foundation and the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation. With their matching funds, we were pleased to raise nearly $44,000! Thank you to all who donated. 
Give Where You Live Collier
Cover of book, Jenny's First Catch
Earth Day Story Time & More
Did you know? Roseate Spoonbills are iconic wading birds that are commonly associated with wetlands. They use their spoon-shaped bills to scoop up small fish and other aquatic prey in shallow waters. Learn about spoonbills during our Earth Day event on Saturday, April 22. Visitors can enjoy music by the HUGS Ukelele band, a guided walk, a Roseate Spoonbill information station, and story time and book signing featuring Jenny's First Catch by Susan Sachs Levine. This book teaches children about these colorful wading birds and is perfect for curious children who love the natural world around them. Plus, enjoy 10% off all spoonbill merchandise in the store – just say “spoonbill” at the register. Find more information about the Earth Day event.
Jenny's First Catch by Susan Levine
Aerial view of the cypress canopy
Final Lectures in our Member Lecture Series
Our Members Only Lecture Series invites members to learn about environmental topics from Audubon staff in the Sanctuary’s multi-purpose classroom from 11 a.m. to noon.

April 14 | Brad Cornell, Southwest Florida Policy Associate, Climate Resiliency for the Future of Conservation
Our present existential ecological threats span both climate disaster and biodiversity collapse, which are related. Our ambitions at Corkscrew Swamp for resilience demand a diverse set of strategies: urban habitat needs, nature-based solutions, inland watershed health, wildlife connections, human and wildlife migration, and resiliency year-round.

May 19 | Keith Laakkonen, Sanctuary Director, All About Birds

Not a member? Join today! 
  Find more information about the lecture series.
Aerial view of the cypress canopy.
People enjoying the boardwalk.
Upcoming Events
Check out these upcoming tours and events!
Photography Workshop I | March 18
Early Birding Walk | March 22
Family Sunset Stroll | March 22
Ancient Forest Tour | March 23
Photography Workshop II | March 25
School’s Out Day Program | March 27
Early Birding Walk | March 29
Family Night Walk | March 29
Photography Workshop III | April 1
Family Sunset Stroll | April 3
Early Birding Walk | April 5
Pine Flatwood Tour | April 6
Guided Forest Bathing Meditation | April 7
Ancient Forest Tour | April 7
Early Birding Walk | April 12
Sunset Stroll | April 13
Early Birding Walk | April 19
Family Night Walk | April 19
Earth Day Story Time | April 22
  View our Calendar of Events.
People enjoying the boardwalk.
Collage of summer camp images
Get Ready for a Summer to Remember!
Campers will explore the Sanctuary’s ancient forest and animals through activities that integrate science, arts and crafts, sports, water play, and more. Camp runs June 5 through July 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with four different weekly themes. Sign up for one week or four! Enroll today!
Wild Florida Adventure Camp
Eco-friendly water in aluminum bottles.
Stay Hydrated
While much of the country is under a blanket of snow, Southwest Florida is experiencing record heat. It’s easy to forget to stay hydrated while enjoying the relative coolness of the swamp. Bringing plenty of drinking water is key to an enjoyable stroll along the boardwalk. Bring your own reusable bottle to fill at one of our water refilling stations, or, purchase water packaged in an aluminum bottle or plant-based carton. We go out of our way to offer plastic-free alternatives.
Eco-friendly water.
Donations and memberships provide crucial support for conservation work at the Sanctuary. The Blair Audubon Center and boardwalk are open daily with timed admissions from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Online tickets are required at www.corkscrew.audubon.org/visit
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 | corkscrew.audubon.org

© 2024 National Audubon Society, Inc.