In Ohio, bald eagles return to Madison County

The Endangered Species Act is credited with helping save the bald eagle, among numerous other species. (Ohio Division of Wildlife)

The good news here in Madison County is that our eagles are back.

Yes, the pair I wrote about last year returned to their nest at the south end of Choctaw Lake, about five miles north of London.

They are the first-ever documented nesting pair in the county in modern times. I believe that at least two (maybe three) eaglets fledged from the nest about July 1 last year. That must have encouraged the adults to return and try again.

One adult always remains on the nest, while the other hovers close by – generally from a neighboring tree.

Their nesting location is ideal. It is high in a big, dead tree above a marshy area that humans cannot easily access. The entire 200-acre lake that is just loaded with fish sprawls below.

These eagles are no dummies.

The next week or so will be the best time to eagle-watch at Choctaw since leaf-out will eventually obscure most of the birds’ activities and make it difficult to see how many hatchlings are in the nest.

The Ohio DNR estimates there were 286 eagle nests in the state in 2018. Virtually all 88 counties hosted at least one. Those nests produced about 445 eaglets, according to a news release.

The agency hopes the state will exceed 300 nests this season.

Bald eagles are one of the great wildlife restoration stories in the U.S. As recently as 1979, there were only four eagle nests in Ohio – all on Lake Erie. Thanks to cooperation among ODNR, state zoos, landowners and more, eagle numbers began to climb to the point that the birds are no longer endangered nationally or statewide.

However, the birds and their nests remain shielded under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. The ODNR advises to keep those cameras and selfie-sticks at least 100 yards away from any watched eagle nest.

Categories: Ohio – Jane Beathard

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