A Word Or Two On Aeries

Home Sweet Home.

Home Sweet Home.

Bald Eagle aeries are wondrous things. Eagles add new sticks to their nests each year and some have grown up to 12 feet in diameter and have weighed multiple tons. It is common for these huge nests to eventually snap the limbs supporting them or even topple the entire tree that had served as their foundation.

Jim and Cindy’s aerie (which they had built from the fork up after their previous nest that had served them so well in the past years was destroyed by a late June 2012 windstorm) has stood the test once again. It has been the focus of their world since Cindy began incubation in February. It has been the only world that the pair of 2013 eaglets have ever known. This trusted, massive structure high atop a well field sycamore tree, this hub of activity, will soon be empty and silent. The eaglets should fledge in the next week or so. For a few days they will return to its familiar confines before they grow in confidence and independence and begin roosting overnight in nearby trees. Then the eagle-cams will go dark, Canada Geese and Great Blue Heron will find the nest a convenient place to rest, and the aerie will be forgotten for several months. It will be left to battle the wind and other elements alone until it is needed again in the late winter’s cold.

As we found last June, winds can be devastating. This fact was proven again just last Friday as a Bald Eagle nest in neighboring Clark County was blown from its tree during severe storms. The two eaglets in this nest plummeted to the ground along with the debris. The nest was within a few hundred feet of a rural roadway and across the road from a building. The destruction was witnessed by people who immediately contacted wildlife officials including Betty Ross, Director of the Glen Helen Raptor Center in nearby Yellow Springs. (Betty is a good friend of the Eastwood Eagle Watchers and was instrumental in the retrieval and attempted recovery of Jim and Cindy’s 2011 eaglet, Spirit, who was fatally injured by striking a wooden utility pole on July 3, 2011. Each spring our group hosts a visit with Jim and Cindy for the youth of the Glen Helen Raptor Camper program.) The eaglets were weighed, measured and examined and found to be healthy. Earlier this week Betty returned them to a hastily assembled, man-made, substitute nest near the location of the original aerie. Hopefully, their parents will continue to care for these eaglets until they fledge from their new home and then educate the duo on the fine art of hunting.

Finally, I would like to take a minute to personally thank Betty Ross for her decades of service to the wildlife of the area. She has calmed many injured and frightened birds, held many talon-armed feet in her hands and has been repeatedly beaten by agitated, flapping wings; all for her love of raptors. Thank you Betty. And thank you too to all of those volunteers at Glen Helen Raptor Center and other similar facilities across the globe that care for misplaced and injured wildlife. You are all silent heroes caring for creatures that cannot utter the words, “Thank you.”

Published in: on June 6, 2013 at 3:36 am  Comments (4)  

4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I really enjoyed the post about Betty Ross. She sounds like a neat lady!! The world needs more people like Betty and your Eastwood Eagle Watchers. It has been a lot of fun watching Jim and Cindy and their eaglets. I hope when they are ready, the flight will be successful!! thanks a lot. Polly

  2. Betty is one of a kind. She emailed me this morning to tell me that after several days the adult eagles in Clark County are again feeding their eaglets in the new, man-made nest! Thanks for your comment Polly.

  3. That is such good news even with human intervention!!! Nice story! Is the man made nest up high or do you know? And is this something that most eagles would do? Thanks Jim. Polly.

  4. Well Polly, as I mentioned the old nest was quite close to a rural roadway. That road is just wide enough to allow opposing traffic to pass safely and features some low, rolling hills that may limit visibility. It was not a good location for stopping to admire the Bald Eagles in the treetops. The new nest appears to basically be a large plastic tub containing a few sticks from the old nest, which has been securely mounted in a large tree in that same area. The new tree is farther back from the roadway allowing the family a bit more privacy. Eagles are very adaptable creatures and the hope was that this nesting box would be accepted by the adults if given a few days to adjust. The clincher of course was the presence of the nest-bound eaglets. Every eagle has individual characteristics so there were no guarantees. When a nest falls and the eaglets are unharmed, the best course of action is to return them to the area as soon as possible. (Even though they were unharmed, placing them back in the area on the ground was not an option as the eaglets had not yet flown and would be extremely vulnerable to predators, parasites and other threats.) I am certain that as time passed, concerns grew and there was sure to have been discussions about how long was too long to wait. But with Mom and Dad’s return and their apparent acceptance of the unusual situation the eaglets are in good hands and should fledge soon.

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