Snow Challenge

Feeding time!

Feeding time!

Jim and Cindy's sycamore.

Jim and Cindy’s sycamore.

Whitetail Deer.

Whitetail Deer.

Serenading Red Wing Blackbird.

Serenading Red Wing Blackbird.

Jim Overhead.

Jim Overhead.

Sunset Over Eastwood Lake.

Sunset Over Eastwood Lake.

The nest as seen from Eastwood.

The nest as seen from Eastwood.

The calendar says that we are 5 days into spring but Old Man Winter just won’t go away. The “major snow event” that has impacted most of the midwest is to slam into the Dayton, Ohio region tonight with 5 to 10 inches of wet snow.

In our eagle aerie is at least one 5-day-old eaglet and possibly one or to more eaglets younger than 5 days. I have no doubt that Jim and Cindy are more than able to shelter their young from the approaching storm and will keep them warm and protected from the elements. But I am a bit concerned about another issue to their safety. As the two distant shots of the nest posted above illustrate, Jim and Cindy’s aerie is wedged into a fork in the highest limbs of a tall sycamore tree. Their new home appears to be around 6 feet in diameter and 4 or 5 feet deep. Calculations suggest that 10 inches of wet snow may add over 200 pounds of extra weight to the nest putting quite a strain on the limbs that support it. Any heavy winds will add to the stress placed on their nest’s foundation. Sycamore trunks are notoriously hollow at times. Remember too that the June 29, 2012 windstorm that blew through the area snapped the trunks of the three similar trees that once stood immediately east of their tree. If the unthinkable should happen (and I certainly am not expecting it to) and the nest be destroyed, Jim and Cindy may relocate to one of their two backup nests and lay a new clutch of eggs.

I fully expect that the tree will do just fine but the threat is there and it is a real one. Exposure to the changing weather is one threat that Jim and Cindy cannot eliminate. They will stay in the nest and literally on top of the situation throughout the storm. They and the nest will be snow-covered but their venerable hatchlings will remain safe and warm if the tree stands strong. But we often fail to realize many of the struggles that the wildlife surrounding us must endure everyday. As I type these words, I see the falling darkness beginning to hide the trees outside my window. Night is creeping in. With the dawn we will know the answers to these questions and whether or not their trusty sycamore has met the challenge yet again.

(Several of you have asked us about viewing the nest in the field. I have posted detailed instructions before but here is a quick recap. If you enter Eastwood Lake MetroPark from Harshman Road, via the unsignalized entrance just south of Ohio Route 4, and take the first right within the park, you will come to a STOP sign near the lake. Turn right there and follow the roadway along the lake until it curves to the left, around the end of the lake. The first wooden pole after that curve is labeled “DP&L 306098”. If you stand by that pole and look east-southeast across Harshman Road you will see the aerie in the distant treetops [as pictured above.]. This is as close as the public can get. If you are willing to spend the time you will see Jim or Cindy flying to or from the nest, even without binoculars or a scope. They may fish the lake in front of you and the one behind you. Just last evening, at dusk, I took the picture of Jim flying directly overhead that is posted at the top of this blog post. Remember to scan the skies above you and over the lake as our huge eagles are amazingly sneaky and often pop up where you do not expect them to be. As you wait for them do not miss out on the Whitetail Deer, Red Tail Hawks, Red Wing Blackbirds, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Blue Herons, Groundhogs, Beavers, Coyotes and other wildlife that call the area home. If you happen to be there in the evening, the sunsets can be beautiful.)

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Published in: on March 25, 2013 at 1:00 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thanks 4 info. Was there yesterday n saw the nest 4 my first time. Ur instructions most helpful!

  2. I am glad you were able to view it John. It is good to know that the markers helped. The remote location of the nest makes it a bit harder to find and a bit of a disappointment to some who do find it, but the isolation of the nest is necessary for the eagles’ unmolested prosperity.


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