Once an endangered and somewhat rare species, the bald eagle has made a huge comeback, especially in Ohio. The national symbol is no longer on the federal or state endangered list, but is still protected by law. You should be seeing more and more around the Miami Valley these days.
If you spend any time outdoors around this part of Ohio, you are bound to see bald eagles. I’ve been getting e-mails and Facebook contacts from people seeing eagles on a regular basis, and in places where they haven’t been seen before.
It only stands to reason that there would be more and more eagles each year. There are well over 200 nests in the Buckeye State. The big birds are so common that they have been taken off of the state and federal endangered species lists. They’re still protected; it’s just that the species has recovered so well they are not considered to be endangered.
A few years ago, the only permanent bald eagle nest in Dayton was in the well field area near Eastwood Lake. If you spent any time at Eastwood MetroPark, you would see eagles swooping around all the time. From all indications, that pair is still in the same area, having moved to a different nest, perhaps. In any case there are several eagles there, including juveniles back for a visit with the folks.
With the rise in the eagle population, it’s difficult to keep track of them all. In fact, the Ohio Division of Wildlife discontinued its banding program in 2011 for that reason. Now it’s mostly a matter of a bird having to be in distress of some sort before the wildlife people step in.
“We get a lot of reports that people are seeing eagles,” said Trent Weaver, the Division of Wildlife officer assigned to Montgomery County. “There are also ospreys around and sometimes people can’t tell the difference.”
Since the division no longer tracks eagles and pinpoints nests, Weaver said it’s “mostly speculation” as to where nests are located. With all the eagle activity around Englewood MetroPark, Weaver suspects there is a nest in that area this year. There had been a couple there for several years, but not recently. There is an eagle nest south of Troy near the Great Miami River and that could be the pair that once resided at Englewood MetroPark. Weaver said there apparently is also a nest south of Miamisburg.
There have been two nests at Grand Lake St. Marys for a long time, but now a large number of eagles have been seen around Lake Loramie. Those could be the ones from nearby Grand Lake, their offspring or totally different birds. One observer has counted three nests in the area.
Eagles are territorial, but having two nests at Grand Lake would indicate the pairs at least tolerate each other. But three nests at the smaller Lake Loramie seems very unusual, especially if all three nests are actually in use.
One thing’s for sure, eagles seem to be tolerating the activities of human beings more than in years past. It used to be that eagle nests were located in very remote areas, away from humans. Now you can find nests around cities like Dayton. One farmer in northern Ohio even has an eagle nest in a hedgerow.And the pair has no problem with a tractor chugging past every now and then.
Laura Kerns, a biologist with ODNR’s Olentangy Research Station, said even though sightings have been more numerous lately, people must still remember it’s illegal to harass bald eagles and, legally, must stay at least 600 feet away from nests.
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