Audubon EagleWatch Program
Started in 1992 with 22 monitors, EagleWatch now utilizes about 275 volunteers who dutifully watch upwards of 300 nests and their resident eagles―about 25% of Florida's total of 1,200. While that's not yet enough to relieve concerns about the eagle's long-term viability, it has allowed the birds to spread their wings throughout the state and in places that might surprise the casual observer.
In contrast to that accessibility, the Wheeler family monitors a nest near Cape Canaveral in the middle of a wildlife refuge. Kim Wheeler, who shares eagle-watching duties with daughter Makayla and husband Mike, describes one attempt at monitoring their eagles. "We're always on the lookout for boars near the nest," she says. "We see their tracks and places where they've been rooting around. The other day, we were riding our bikes back to the spot where we could see the nest, and we heard what we thought were boars in the brush not far from us. We thought it best to turn ourselves around and get out of there."
"Without the volunteers," continues Lynda, "there wouldn't be an EagleWatch. I am the only staff person, and I couldn't do it without them."