Tuesday, April 14th, 2009
Eaglets hatch in two nests
By Nancy Allen
Two resident pairs of bald eagles nesting on Grand Lake have hatched an undetermined number of young, reported volunteer eagle watcher Jill Bowers of St. Marys on Monday.
Bowers has recorded information on Grand Lake's eagles for a number of years for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The pair with a nest behind Prairie Creek housing subdivision on the lake's south side hatched young on April 8 and the pair nesting in the Mercer Wildlife Area hatched young on April 10, she said.
"Of course I can't see any heads yet so we don't know how many," she added.
Bowers said at both nests the adults now sit higher on the nest, indicating there are eaglets. She also has observed both parents dipping their heads into the nest to feed.
With the cold, rainy weather lately, there is always a worry the eaglets won't survive, but everything looks good so far, she said. The first 10 days of an eaglet's life is the most critical because they cannot regulate their body temperature and depend solely on their parents for warmth.
Bowers remembers the lake's first pair of resident eagles lost their first brood in 1996 during a freezing rain.
"It's always a worry if it gets cold enough," she said. "It's very important in weather like this there is always somebody on the nest."
At the Mercer nest Bowers observed the male take away old nesting material (grass) and bring new, a way to keep the nest tidy and dryer for the eaglets.
"What he takes away is solid and doesn't look so good and what he brings back is stringy," she said.
The Mercer pair, which usually hatches first, likely got a late start this year because they had to build a new nest after their old one blew down last summer. The new nest is about 200 yards west of the old one, which had been located on the lake's southwest side.
When the Mercer pair's nest blew down, two of the three eaglets were close to fledging (leaving the nest). Wildlife officials found one baby on the nest debris on the ground and sent him to the Glen Helen Raptor Center in Yellow Springs for a day to make sure he was uninjured. They then returned the eaglet to the nest area and the parents continued to feed him until he was flying a few days later.
Young eagles fly within three months of hatching, but remain under the care of their parents for another seven to 10 weeks.
The Mercer pair began nesting on the lake in 2001 and the Prairie Creek pair in 2006. Together both pairs have reared a total of 23 eaglets since they came to the lake.
Bowers also reported she and her husband have sighted osprey on the lake, but none are nesting there as far as they know. Osprey, also called fish hawks, are large black and white raptors with yellow eyes. They can be seen in many parts of Florida nesting atop telephone poles and towers.
Her husband built an osprey nesting platform that local division of wildlife officials plan to erect this year at the wildlife area. Once it's up, people should be able to view it from the Mercer Wildlife Area observation tower on state Route 703 west of Montezuma. Local wildlife officials last year erected an osprey nesting platform behind the Auglaize & Mercer Counties Convention and Visitors Bureau on Edgewater Drive to encourage them to nest. So far there are no osprey nesting there.
Both bald eagles and osprey are wildlife comeback stories. Their populations declined in the 1950s and 1960s due mostly to the pesticide DDT, which made their eggs brittle and break before chicks could hatch.