A bald eagle nest just east of the C.J. Brown Reservoir would have been monitored daily by state wildlife officials not long ago.
Now, because the symbolic raptor is no longer considered endangered or even threatened, it’s just a really cool sight.
A pair of eagles have made their home in a tree on private farmland near Buck Creek State Park, which is a first in the area in recent history, according to Brett Beatty, a wildlife management supervisor for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Beatty called the bald eagle’s plight “a real success story,” even though the state still considers bald eagles in Clark and Champaign counties to be rare or absent.
Bald eagles were taken off the U.S. endangered species list in 2007, having first been deemed endangered in 1967.
“We don’t monitor the nests as closely as we used to,” Beatty said. “There’s getting to be more than we can keep an eye on.”
But try telling that to someone seeing a bald eagle for the first time.
“The bald eagle just carries so much — I don’t even know how to describe it,” Beatty said. “People just get excited when they see it.”
In 1979, when ODNR began a bald eagle restoration project, just four pairs of eagles could be found in the entire state. By comparison, the state estimated there to be 213 breeding pairs in Ohio last year, and they produced an estimated 321 young.
It’s believed bald eagles partner for life.
Beatty isn’t sure how long the two local eagles — who indeed are caring for eaglets, as seen in a photo by Springfield News-Sun photographer Bill Lackey — have resided near the reservoir. Their nest was only recently seen for the first time by Clark County’s wildlife officer, he said.
Beatty guessed there to be at least 10 nesting pairs of bald eagles in southwest Ohio. The hot spot for bald eagles in Ohio remains the western part of Lake Erie.
“I don’t get as excited as I used to,” he said, “but it’s still pretty cool.”
In 1996, when a pair of bald eagles nested along Grand Lake St. Marys in Mercer County, they were believed to have been the first to nest in this region since the turn of the century, according to news reports then. At that time, however, the Mercer County nest was one of just 30 known bald eagle nests statewide.
“Look what we’ve done,” Beatty said, “from taking a bird that was on the edge to what we have now in Ohio.”
Even though the bald eagle is now listed nationally as a “species of concern” — having rebounded from being decimated in the years after World War II by the pesticide DDT — they’re still very much protected by law. Their nests are protected as well, Beatty said.
“It’s also important to keep your distance,” he said.
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