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03-11-03: Bald eagle couple in Celina area 'expecting'
On the nest

The Daily Standard
    A local pair of North American bald eagles will likely become new parents again in April.
    Wildlife officials believe the duo is currently incubating one egg inside the same nest used last year along U.S. 127 by Johnston Road, south of Celina.
    "They started nesting about March 2, which means by April 5th or 6th the eaglet should hatch," local Wildlife Officer Ryan Garrison said Monday. Incubation periods last about 35 days, he added.
    Garrison said eagle watchers determine the number of eggs being incubated by how often the eagles rotate atop the egg(s) in the nest.
    "You can kind of tell by the way they're acting, but of course it's just a guess," Garrison said. "It's nearly impossible to see inside the nest to know for sure."
    Last year, the eagles attracted a lot of sightseers to the location, sometimes creating a traffic hazard along the busy highway. Garrison urges motorists to view the magnificent birds from Johnston Road, being sure not to block the roadway or drive onto private property while doing so. The eagles can easily be seen with a pair of binoculars, he added.
    "In the past, we've seen people out there from Cincinnati and Dayton who've come up to eagle watch," he said. "We just don't want to see an accident occur."
    The female eagle typically spends the most time incubating the eggs while the male searches for food, but the pair will change places occasionally, Garrison explained.
    Garrison said the local pair of bald eagles are quite unique. Typically, eagles reuse the same nest year after year, but this pair has built three nests along the lake in the last two years. The first nest spotted by officials is located about 200 yards northeast of the one the pair is currently using. The eagles hatched one eaglet in that nest in the spring of 2001, but it did not survive.
    Last year, the local pair built a new nest, closer to the highway than the first, and successfully hatched a single eaglet that left its parents in June.
    Then in February this year, the pair busily constructed a new nest in the refuge area further out in the lake, but at the last minute they abandoned it and decided to return to last year's nest.
    "Eagles generally use the same nest for life, they just add on to it every year," Garrison said.
    According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), bald eagles tend to build huge nests in the tops of tall trees near water. The nests may reach 10 feet across and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds.
    North American bald eagles are very territorial and usually "kick" their offspring out of the nest after four to six months, Garrison said.
    Eaglets are mottled brown when hatched and do not acquire pure white heads and tail feathers like their parents until age 5 or 6. They usually take flight by the time they are 3 months old.
    Last month, four Ohio counties - Seneca, Ross, Ottawa and Sandusky - reported eagles nesting. There are active nests in 28 Ohio counties including Mercer, the ODNR reports. Twenty-five years ago there were only four nesting pairs along the southwestern Lake Erie shore in Ohio; in 2002 that number climbed to 79 eagle pairs across the state.
    Bald eagles, our country's national symbol, are protected by state and federal laws. An eagle's life span in the wild is 15-20 years, wildlife experts say.


Phone: (419)586-2371,   Fax: (419)586-6271
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The Standard Printing Company
P.O. Box 140, Celina, OH 45822