Eagle-eyed Wisconsinites report dozens of new bald eagle nests
MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsinites reported a number of new bald eagle nests in 2020, while volunteers from Madison Audubon Society monitored known nests from the ground in nine counties.
These collective volunteer efforts greatly helped the Wisconsin DNR‘s bald eagle monitoring and protection efforts in 2020 and are expected to do so again as bald eagles soon begin nesting in southern Wisconsin.
Documenting and surveying known bald eagle nest locations is important to track population trends. This allows DNR staff to provide current information to landowners and forest managers on nest locations so they can avoid disturbing the birds during breeding season.
“The word is out that we’re interested in learning about new nests,” said Rich Staffen, Conservation Biologist for the DNR Natural Heritage Conservation Program, who is responsible for occupied nest surveys in nine counties in south central and southwestern Wisconsin. “Since our last occupied nest surveys in spring 2019, for my region alone, I have gotten 44 new nest reports of likely bald eagles. These are from citizens or biologists and reported to me or Madison Audubon Society. Most have been verified as active bald eagle nests.”
Highlights from public reports included a second documented nest in Kenosha County and two new nests in Madison. Milwaukee County, the only county without a documented nest, nearly erased that goose egg in 2020 until a volunteer discovered a nest less than a quarter-mile outside the county line.
Several of the new reports came from landowners or outdoor enthusiasts who discovered nests. Others came from some of the 2,000 volunteers who helped the DNR and partners complete data collection in 2019 for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II, a five-year statewide effort to document the abundance and location of Wisconsin’s nesting birds.
The DNR and Madison Audubon Society staff have confirmed many of the new nest reports or sent volunteers to check the nests and potentially add to the list for future monitoring.
The public is encouraged to report nests that are in remote areas and appear to be new. People can report suspected new nests to the DNR through the eagle watching web page.