For weeks I had been reading about an eagle’s nest at the Mentor Marsh Nature Preserve and this weekend we had a chance to drive up to see it. It’s only a couple of miles from our house – I figured the nest was well hidden and we would have a hard time spotting it or the eagles. But as we drove north on State Route 44 toward Headlands Beach State Park, parked on the highway berm were about 20 cars! The eagles graciously built their nest with spectators in mind. Now, they are not real close to the road, as you can see in this photo:
However, they are visible to the naked eye and very accessible with even the lowest power binoculars. The 10X zoom on my little digital camera gave me these pretty good photos:
Eagles are making a comeback in Ohio, after many years absence. The pesticide DDT did a number on these birds. From Wickipedia, “In 1962, Silent Spring by American biologist Rachel Carson was published. The book catalogued the environmental impacts of the indiscriminate spraying of DDT in the US and questioned the logic of releasing large amounts of chemicals into the environment without fully understanding their effects on ecology or human health. The book suggested that DDT and other pesticides may cause cancer and that their agricultural use was a threat to wildlife, particularly birds.” After DDT was banned in 1972 and the Endangered Species Act was passed, these almost extinct birds started nesting in Ohio again.
I am so thrilled to have these beautiful and majestic birds nesting so close to my house. We plan to head up there frequently and try to catch the progress of the eaglets. No one can see into the nest of course, but other watchers speculate that the eggs have hatched due to the apparent feeding activity of the parents. While we were there this evening, one flew off toward the Grand River but when it returned it did not appear to have any fish or other prey. They switched off and the other one flew out to perch on a nearby limb. Viewing will also be more limited as the trees leaf out.
Part of the fun of birdwatching is the interaction with other watchers. We shared our binoculars with people who saw the cars and stopped to see what we were all looking at. Today a lady shared her spotting scope with us so we could get a better look at the eagle on the nest. This morning a photographer with a VERY long lens showed us some of his photos and let us know about the feeding activity.
There has also been some activity by the local police department from Grand River, who at first tried to make everyone move their cars off the berm of the highway, saying it was illegal to park there. The earlier cited photographer said they threatened to ticket him and he told them go ahead, he would love to talk to the judge. The police moved on without ticketing him. Later I heard they came back with their sirens and bullhorns blaring, which caused both eagles to take flight, to the consternation of the watchers. After that no more police activity has been reported, since with that last act they were probably doing something illegal by disturbing the nest of an endangered species. I think as long as everyone is orderly and there are no accidents they will cease police activity. I hope so, this is truly a treat for adults and children alike!
My husband, Dana, has a longer lens on his camera and he got some great photos. He is working on his blog which is Mid-Life Adventures. If you click there and they are not up yet, check back in a couple of days, he is a student and trying to blog between homework assignments!
For more facts about eagles, a good site is BaldEagleInfo.com. It contains lots of good photos and information on eagle habitat and nesting.