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Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Monthly eNewsletter
Wading birds in the swamp.
Feeding Frenzy at the Lettuce Lakes
April might be the most magical month of the year at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. In South Florida, with the summer rainy season a distant memory, the water table has receded and created isolated wetlands. Fish get trapped in small pools and both wading birds and alligators capitalize on the concentrated fish. The resulting “feeding frenzy” also provides great bird-watching conditions along the 2.25-mile Sanctuary boardwalk, but especially at the Lettuce Lakes. Visitors spotted Roseate Spoonbills, Tricolored Herons, Great Egrets, and even American Bitterns in recent weeks.Watch a 50-second video of the action!
Great Egret, Tricolored Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, and White Ibis at the Lettuce Lake. Photo: Renee Wilson/Audubon
A graphic showing a book cover and headshot
Join Us on Earth Day
Learn about Roseate Spoonbills and more when you join the fun on Earth Day, Saturday, April 22. We’ll have guided walks, live music with the HUGS ukulele band, a spoonbill information station, and storytime and book signing for children with author Susan Sachs Levine. Activities are included with regular admission (free for Corkscrew members). Be sure to visit the nature store, and the cafe offers coffee, snacks, and lunch options from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. 
Jenny's First Catch book cover | author Susan Sachs Levine
a collage with pin artwork and a photo booth
Thank You, Volunteers
From interpreting the sights and sounds of the swamp to maintaining our precious boardwalk, so much of what we do would not be possible without our team of dedicated volunteers. In late March, we hosted our annual volunteer recognition event, Connecting People with Nature, at the Blair Visitor Center.
The annual volunteer pin | photo booth fun
Aerial photo of white birds in treetops
Wood Stork Nesting Update
Audubon’s monthly Southwest Florida Wood Stork nesting monitoring flight was conducted on April 4. Prior flights this season documented three active Wood Stork colonies in this region: BC-29 (west of SR-29, north of Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge), Lenore Island (Caloosahatchee River west of I-75), and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. On this month’s flight, nesting efforts continued at the BC-29 and Lenore Island colonies with most chicks at or near fledging size (6-8 weeks old). We did not observe Wood Storks nesting at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary this month. 

While the Greater Everglades used to be this species’ heartland, South Florida’s Wood Storks have not yet reached species recovery targets. Yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed to remove the Wood Stork from Endangered Species Act protection. The decline in Wood Storks is particularly apparent in Southwest Florida, where new colonies are not replacing the number of Wood Storks that historically nested in the Corkscrew Colony. Recovery of Wood Storks in the Greater Everglades depends on conservation and restoration to improve nesting and foraging conditions in Southwest Florida’s wetlands.
Wood Storks in various stages of nesting at the Lenore Island colony, in addition to nesting Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, and others. Photo: Jacob Zetzer/Audubon
Traps affixed to tree trunks
Corkscrew Sanctuary Hosts Visiting Researcher from Mississippi State University
The baldcypress leafroller is a moth that consumes the leafy canopy of bald cypress trees. While considered native across part of the bald cypress’ range, the moth became a problem in Louisiana in the 1980s. A PhD student is using insect traps designed for capturing moths to confirm the presence of the insect across a wider range - including in Florida, where it has not yet been documented.
Baldcypress leafroller traps. Photos: Alex Meinders/Audubon
Scroll past the news for more information and events!
in the news graphic
Partnerships Make Prescribed Fire Safe
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. This was the first time Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s Prescribed Fire Team engaged with the NIPFTC.

Not Your Average Everglades (Jupiter Magazine)
Visit Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary ( to search for the likes of barred owls and ruby-throated hummingbirds while keeping watch for summer-specific spectacles like the world’s largest ghost orchid in bloom and the seasonal appearance of bioluminescent tree fungi.

Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary’s New Director Keith Laakkonen is a Cape Coral Native
It seems Keith Laakkonen was always meant to be the director of a major Southwest Florida preserve. The biologist and former director of the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Laakkonen grew up in Cape Coral, went to the University of Florida and came back to work for the Town of Fort Myers Beach as an environmental sciences coordinator. Now he's been appointed director of a regional gemstone: Audubon's Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples.

It’s Nesting Season at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary and Around SWFL
February 24 marked the first official sighting of a Swallow-tailed Kite at Corkscrew Swamp 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. Kites make their nests in tall trees near a water source and sometimes nest at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.
A collage of photos of a woman educating people
Farewell, Debbie Lotter
After more than 14 years of service at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Youth Education Coordinator Debbie Lotter is leaving the flock to pursue a new and exciting career path. Debbie is a Florida Master Naturalist instructor and has channeled her passion and dedication into creating meaningful education experiences for the children who visit the Sanctuary. She will be missed!

We currently have openings for seasonal outdoor educators. 
Compilation of photos of Debbie Lotter educating students and the community.
A brown bird in green grass
American Bitterns are Masters of Camouflage
American Bitterns are skillful stalkers of still waters. They breed in freshwater wetlands across northern North America and spend winters in Cuba, Mexico, and the southeastern U.S., including at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Little is known about the natural history of these secretive marsh birds, but their numbers are declining across their range due to the loss of wetland habitats and drought.
American Bittern at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Photo: Arnie Collens
Photos of red flower spikes growing out of the ground
April 16 is National Orchid Day
The leafless beaked orchid (Sacoila lanceolata var. lanceolata) is a terrestrial orchid that only grows in Florida, the West Indies, and Central and South America. While it does have nondescript, straplike leaves, the plant is nearly invisible most of the year until spring, when vibrant red flower spikes emerge. This species grows in sandy soils with poor drainage and is pollinated by hummingbirds. While it is possible to see these flowers from the boardwalk, this plant was photographed in pine flatwoods habitat where a prescribed fire took place last winter.
Leafless beaked orchid. Photos: Allyson Webb
Events and Other News
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.
a barred owl in a tree
Upcoming Events
Check out these upcoming tours and events!

Early Birding Walk | April 12
Sunset Stroll | April 13
Member Lecture: Climate Change | April 14
Early Birding Walk | April 19
Family Night Walk | April 19
Earth Day Story Time | April 22
Guided Forest Bathing Meditation | May 5
Endangered Species Day | May 19
Ancient Forest Tour | May 19
Member Lecture: All About Birds | May 19
  View our Calendar of Events.
Barred Owl. Photo: Arnie Collens
Collage of summer camp images
Get Ready for a Summer to Remember!
Campers will explore the magic of the Sanctuary’s ancient forest and animals through fun and exciting 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
merchandise with roseate spoonbill imagery
Roseate Spoonbill Merchandise
What is that beautiful pink color in the swamp? Roseate Spoonbills have been taking advantage of low water levels for easy feeding. Make some time to come out for a walk around the boardwalk, and be sure to stop in the Nature Store and check out our spoonbill merchandise. On Earth Day, say “spoonbill” at the check-out counter to receive 10% off your Roseate Spoonbill merchandise! 
Roseate Spoonbill merchandise at the Nature Store.
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
Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
375 Sanctuary Rd., Naples, FL 34120 USA
(239) 348-9151 |

© 2024 National Audubon Society, Inc.