Ohio Bald Eagle Nest Numbers Continuing to Climb


It’s amazing how things can change in nearly half a century, especially when it comes to wildlife.

With proper habitat and a cleaner environment, it is now common for people to see a bald eagle. This was not the case nearly 50 years ago, when only four breeding pairs of this large raptor existed in the state.

Although there is no specific count of breeding pairs, the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) estimated that there were 806 bald eagle nests in Ohio. The count includes currently active, failing and inactive nests, although the majority of nests were active with eagles present, incubating or with young. Protected by law, inactive nests are counted.

According to a DOW press release, the wildlife agency’s bald eagle nesting survey involved flying over five blocks, each about 10 square miles, to look for eagle nests in the woods. and along rivers. Two of the boulders, one near Sandusky on Lake Erie and the other above the Mosquito Creek Wildlife Preserve in northeast Ohio, are flown annually. The other three blocks are rotated annually. The 2021 blocks were located around the Killbuck Wildlife Preserve, Great Lake St. Marys and the Maumee River in Defiance and Henry counties.

The DOW says the reason the bald eagle population is thriving is because of a cleaner environment thanks to the ban on DDT and the regulation of other environmental pollutants. He also cited the bald eagle’s adaptability to a landscape altered by human activities as well as other human intervention efforts such as wildlife rehabilitation.

The state’s breeding pair productivity rate has been around 1.6 in recent years, according to the DOW. This rate is higher than the 1 per nest needed to maintain the eagle population.

In the nine counties of the Lima region, there were 58 nests in the last county by county in 2020 and each county had at least two nests. A county-by-county breakdown for this year has yet to be listed. In a county count in 2012 – the year bald eagles were removed from the state’s endangered species list – four (Allen, Auglaize, Shelby and Van Wert) of the region’s nine counties didn’t have an eagle’s nest.

Mercer leads the area with 16 nests from the 2020 count. Other counties and nest counts from this count are: Allen 5, Auglaize 4, Hancock 12, Hardin 9, Logan 8, Putnam 8, Shelby 3, and Van Wert 2.

Certain characteristics cause bald eagles to build nests in certain locations, including proximity to Lake Erie and/or the presence of large lakes, reservoirs, significant wetlands, or large river corridors with mature trees that provide habitat. nesting habitat.

One reason that counties along Lake Erie like Ottawa, Sandusky, and Erie have a high number of nests is due to the high concentration of wetland coastal marshes, which are ideal habitat for the bald eagle, according to the DOW.

My wife and I visited our daughter in Port Clinton last weekend and while checking the duck migration noticed a number of bald eagles and nests. It is unusual not to see an eagle flying or sitting on or near a nest when traveling in Ohio 2. A pair is often seen sitting together in a tree. Since the nests are so large, they are easy to spot at this time of year.

Some nests were destroyed in the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and the Magee Marsh Wildlife Refuge during a summer storm last year. We’ve seen where it looks like eagles are building new nests near a few old sites. We also saw a flying eagle with a big stick for its nest. While both members of a pair will bring materials to a nest, it is usually the female who places the materials.

You might also see a number of immature eagles along Lake Erie. About 25% of birds acquire adult plumage at the age of 4 1/2 years. By the time an eagle is 5½ years old, it acquires pure white adult plumage of the head and tail. This adult plumage is retained throughout the life of the bird.

Bald eagles remain protected by state and federal laws, including the Federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

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This past Saturday and Sunday saw mixed weather conditions along Lake Erie as Saturday was wet, windy and cold, while Sunday offered sunny blue skies. It was a great two days of early birding while hiking through the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge near Oak Harbor and the West Harbor Landing Refuge Annex on Catawba Island, Magee Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, the Metzger Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary near Oak Harbor and the Howard Marsh Metropark in Curtice.

Saturday gave a bonanza of different species of waterfowl and a plethora of ducks. We saw a decent number of ducks on Sunday, but that day offered us white pelicans and sandhill cranes in flight. We also saw trumpeter swans, white egrets and blue herons.

Among the duck species we saw were: Mallards, Wood Ducks, Common Merganser, Crested Merganser, Ringneck, Greater Scaup, Shoveler, Redheads, Buffleheads, gadwalls and grebes. We also saw lots of coots. However, they are not classified as a duck, but as a rail. They are also called mud hens.

A pair of bald eagles are pictured in their nest, the number of bald eagle nests in Ohio is now estimated at 806.

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You can contact him [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL


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