Mediterra, a 1,700-acre, gated, master-planned community in idyllic North Naples, Fla., was the first private golf club to be awarded the Audubon Silver Sanctuary Recognition.
Submitted by Max Passino Deboer and Brooke Alfasa
The Club at Mediterra
Mediterra is a 1,700-acre, gated, master-planned community in idyllic North Naples, Florida. With less than 950 residences and more than 1,000 acres of preserve, the community was designed with the intimacy, charm, and classical style of the Mediterranean region of Europe. In 15 years, Mediterra has been named ‘Community of the Year’ by the Collier Building Industry Association an unprecedented eleven times! Mediterra has also received the Award of Excellence for Open Spaces from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The Club was also the first private golf club to be awarded the Audubon Silver Sanctuary Recognition.
Mediterra was designed around one thousand acres of natural preserve, protected land that is home to a variety of Florida wildlife. With more acres for nature than homes for human inhabitants, we have it all! Snakes that slither, turtles that waddle right up to the Clubhouse from one of the many ponds, frolicking otters, bouncing bunnies, bob cats that cleverly hide and even bears roaming the grounds in search of a snack, all reside harmoniously inside the gated community. The most common animal you will see enjoying the grounds, including surprise sightings on the golf courses besides rabbits and an abundance of deer are the many varieties of birds that call Mediterra home.
Importance of Birds
Birds are servants to the diverse ecosystems we have at present. Some may fear birds, but as our “Bird Guy” Brian Beckner of Native Bird Boxes stated, “In my experience, as long as a person is providing due respect and space to species around them, there is nothing to fear by their presence.” Birds are seed dispersers and predators, providing us with food, and medicines and protecting us from insects. They also benefit other animals, providing safe nurseries for fish eggs in pollinating areas.
For example, wading birds eating fish and dispersing fish eggs as they forage aquatic systems. Some birds eat seeds from native plants, therefore disseminating and pollinating areas. Raptors help to reduce rodents and other mammals that are in excess.”
Beckner says “In my personal experience, I see a lack of knowledge surrounding bird activity, migration, nesting patterns and understanding the impact humans and over-development has on the ecosystems they need for survival and, ultimately, ours.”
Types of birds
There are, on average, fifty species that have been seen on Mediterra property alone, Florida is home to around two hundred breeding birds, plus more we may have not yet discovered. The most seen bird is the “Northern Cardinal,” which is on around 50% of bird watching lists, more than any other! The rarest bird is the “Florida Grasshopper Sparrow,” which is a non-migratory subspecies found only in the dry prairies of central Florida.
Some of Mediterra’s favorite “neighbors” that nest regularly inside the Preserve include Screech Owls, Eagles, Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Martins, Bats and Woodpeckers.
Birds in Danger
Luckily, when hearing of endangered birds, you do not often hear too many. There are common ways birds can be in harm’s way, but the top six, according to Earth.com, are Habitat loss and degradation, deforestation, pollution, pesticides, overfishing, and illegal hunting. Birds know how to survive, which shows most of the issues arise from human behavior. We play a huge role in preserving bird habitats, so be mindful of your impact on the environment!
Birds AND Bees
Mediterra is also home to beehives that provide its members with local honey. Bees tend to get taken for granted, but they are vital to our existence, yet often misunderstood. Our “Bee Guy” Paul Shannon mentions that “Honeybees are good and will not attack you. They never want to sting you, so if it does happen, it was an accident.”
Types of Bees
There are many commonly seen species in the United States. Around 4,000 have been documented, and at least three hundred bee species are estimated in Florida. At least twenty-nine of those species can only be found in Florida. Most species, however, tend to expand past the state. The most common include Western Honeybee, Common Eastern Bumble Bee, Eastern Carpenter Bee, Dilemma Orchid Bee, etc. Most people believe bees look like wasps, when a lot of them look like small ants, so you might see more than you think and not realize you are looking at a bee.
Bees in Danger
Most of our food supply relies on bee pollination. Bees, too, are in danger. They are dying at alarming rates. Loss of habitat, food sources, and exposure to pesticides all contribute to bees potentially dying out. Shannon shares, “The more we concrete over the world, the less area bees must grow on their own. This is why Bee farmers are so important and so is an awareness that pesticides and insecticides have far-reaching repercussions.”
FairPlanet.org also mentions that largely due to human activities such as large-scale changes in land use, industrialized agriculture practices, and the detrimental use of pesticides play a huge role in destroying bee habitats, making it very hard for them to live safely.
We are grateful for all the stewards of our environment. We must all respect and appreciate the wildlife sharing our planet and do our part helping keep them safe and educating the world about birds and bees and their importance. Their survival is linked to ours. We have no choice but to live in harmony with wildlife before there is no “wild” and only preserves. As for Mediterra, we continue to keep a watchful eye on and co-exist within our peaceable preserve.