Eagle hunt

It looks like the eagle nest I spotted at one of the local reservoirs the other day may get some use this year.  At least I hope that’s why a pair of adult Bald Eagles sat above the nest overlooking the marshy, but frozen landscape below.

bald eagles at their prospective nest site

I think they have been spotted here by others as much as a month ago (if this is the same pair).  Since the nest is located in the middle of the marsh, it’s impossible to get very close (which is good for them).

As eagle nests go, this is a rather small one.  The largest Bald Eagle nest ever recorded measured almost 9 feet across and 18 feet in depth!  Putting this much effort into nest construction means the pair will use it for as many seasons as they can or until the tree falls over.

bald eagle nest

What the nest looks like from the other side of the marsh (minus eagles of course). I won’t be able to even get this close when the marsh finally thaws out.

But let me back up in my story.  I was strolling along the walking path at this reservoir park and heard the typical chattering calls of what I thought must be eagles (click here to hear the sounds recorded by Cornell Lab of Ornithology).  I looked up into the nearest tree, the sky, all around, and couldn’t find them, until I got right under them and here they were.  Not the greatest view from my ground perspective, but easy enough to tell they were eagles.

bald eagles on transmission tower

Here they were carrying on this chattering conversation at the top of a transmission tower that stood another 20 feet higher than the tree tops. The eagle on the left in the back was clearly a full adult, but the one on the right still had some of the sub-adult brown and white plumage, and lacked the white head and tail of the adult.

bald eagle-immature

One by one they flew off in the direction of the nest, about 1.5 miles away by foot — probably less than a 2 min flight for them.

A quick 20 min walk brought me to the site from which I took the first photo above, and surprise — there were two full adults sitting there.  So, where did that sub-adult bird go?  Maybe there is actually more than one nest in this vicinity, but sub-adults typically are not breeders until they have attained their full adult plumage markings.

Hopefully, I’ll see something like this scene below at the nest site soon. This was taken last spring at a nest in Maple Grove near where my daughter lives.


These eagles were still bringing nest materials to this oversized creation in .  The eagle landing had a stick in its talons, and the eagle sitting on the nest then positioned it in the nest cup, scooching around on it to make it a comfortable fit.


And wouldn’t I love to get some close-up shots of these eagles…like this one I photographed two years ago on the Mississippi River.

The Minnesota DNR has posted a webcam above a Bald Eagle nest.  Live feeds from the webcam of the nesting pair can be viewed here.

MN DNR webcam - Bald Eagle nest

4 thoughts on “Eagle hunt

  1. Hi Sue, We enjoy all the interesting birds you have been sending on Back Yard Biology! I guess we do have a few interesting birds in the US. We are heading for CA, and plan to see Mary and John in Sacramento.. We are hoping for some good weather to get over the mts, and Wyoming can have some high winds. We have seen semi trucks overturned along the way!


  2. Pingback: Eagles and more eagles | Back Yard Biology

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