The eaglet has landed in Huron County nest

Momma and daddy eagles get a bit protective of their young. Other bird species know to stay away when a newborn is in the nes
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


Momma and daddy eagles get a bit protective of their young.

Other bird species know to stay away when a newborn is in the nest, said Judy Ebinger, who has watched the Pontiac nest in Huron County since it was first built eight years ago.

"They become very defensive after the eggs have hatched. ... Cranes, when they start to migrate back, will go around the tree because they know to not go across the top of that nest," Ebinger said.

At least one bald eagle chick is alive and chirping in Huron County, having survived the severe snowstorm March 7-8, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources confirmed last week. They know this because the parents are exhibiting all the signs of parenthood.

"There appears to be at least one young in the nest," said Mark Shieldcastle, wildlife biologist supervisor with ODNR, adding the nest is southwest of the Pontiac section line.

Cold weather and heavy snowfall are a threat to newborn eagle chicks because they can damage the nests made of branches and twigs. But Shieldcastle said the parents are so protective of the young chicks that the danger is somewhat small.

"Those adults are so attentive and tight to the nest that the (eaglets) generally pull through just fine," he said.

The hatching, which biologists estimate occurred March 6, was the first of the year for Ohio, said Jane Beathard, ODNR spokeswoman. In 2007, 194 eagles were born in the state.

Because eagle nests are usually built in tall trees, the view from the ground is never very good. Volunteers who observe the nests through binoculars are taught to look for several telltale changes to the parents' behavior.

"When there is an egg in a nest the birds are less animated. When they get up and move, you can see them roll the egg. When they hatch ... (sometimes) they can't sit still, they are constantly fidgeting, constantly looking down into the nest. You can see them actually feeding the young," Shieldcastle said.

It's not too difficult to find birdwatching hobbyists who are willing to stake out a bald eagle nest. Biologists say the eagle is a popular bird because of its grace and reputation.

Not only are they the nation's symbol for freedom, they are also large birds of prey that are quite striking to look at, Shieldcastle said.

"I am in love with the bald eagle -- it's amazing what they do and how they communicate with each other and how they raise these babies," Ebinger gushed.

About 45 counties in Ohio boast eagle nests, and a record-setting 180 active eagle territories have been identified by biologists this year.

The exact number of eaglets in the nest won't be known for a few weeks.