Ohio seeing continued uptick in bald eagle numbers

There are signs of spring everywhere these days. Some are more uplifting than others.

I see quite a few dead skunks lying by the side of the road – an indication these critters are up from their winter snooze and feeling romantic.

A more intriguing (and appealing) spring harbinger is the appearance of nesting bald eagles around the state. We are especially excited here in Madison County to see two nests – the first ones officially reported in modern times.

While transient eagles were sighted around the county numerous times in the last few years, they never seemed to hang out long or stay to nest.

This year is different.

One current eagle nest is located at the south end of Choctaw Lake, just off Old Columbus Road. The other is on private property near the intersection of State Route 38 and Arbuckle Road. Both are about five miles north of London.

I crept as close as possible to the Choctaw nest this week. Mama and papa eagle were not pleased. They circled over my head in a protective manner. One sat on the nest for a few minutes. Their actions indicated the likelihood of eggs in the nest.

March is an incubation time for Ohio’s bald eagles, with most hatches occurring in early to mid-April.

Bald eagles are no longer an endangered species. However, they do remain federally protected and wildlife biologists like to keep an eye on nests. That’s true in Ohio, where the number of nests and birds has been on the rise since the late 1970s.

The March 2017 aerial eagle survey estimated there were 221 nests along waterways across the state. That number was up slightly from the 2016 estimate of 207. An estimated 312 young bald eagles fledged from the state’s 221 nests last year.

State wildlife biologists believe Ohio’s bald eagle population stabilized over the last 10 years, with an annual increase of 3.5 percent, according to the Ohio DNR.

Most eagle nests are on private property. That’s a good thing since eagles are traditionally not fond of humans prowling about. But that may be changing.

Karen Norris of the Ohio DNR said eagles, like many wildlife species, are adapting to humans close by.

“They don’t seem to mind people too much anymore,” she said.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard