CLEVELAND — For the first time in eight years, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife is trying to find every bald eagle nest in the Buckeye State and is asking Ohioans to keep their eyes peeled for the majestic national bird.
“From the Ohio River to Lake Erie, our state has become an ideal home for the bald eagle,” said ODNR director Mary Mertz in a news release. “This is a great opportunity to get outdoors and see this soaring raptor, all while providing a valuable conservation service to our state.”
Typically, wildlife biologists estimate the number of eagle nests by flying over select areas of the state to verify. The attempt to identify locations of all the nests in the state hasn’t been attempted since they were de-listed by the state in 2012.
Wildlife staff will verify nest locations before updating the division's historical databases.
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“The bald eagle’s remarkable comeback speaks volumes about Ohio’s conservation efforts,” said Gov. Mike DeWine. “With its population on the rise, the bald eagle will continue to serve as a powerful symbol for our state and our country for years to come.”
Once listed as an endangered species, with only four nesting pairs in Ohio in 1979, the bald eagle was removed from the federal list in 2007 and from Ohio’s list in 2012 thanks to wildlife rehabilitation facilities and concerned landowners.
Division of Wildlife chief Kendra Wecker said the bald eagle population is estimated at more than 350 nesting pairs of bald eagles in 2019.
Tips for finding bald eagle nests
Bald eagles are still protected under both state law and the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. It is illegal to disturb bald eagles.
Bald eagles usually lay eggs and incubate in February and March. Young eagles will leave the nest three months after, usually in June. The birds nest in large trees such as sycamores, oaks and cottonwoods near large bodies of water. Fish and carrion are preferred foods.
Wildlife experts urge the public to respect their space and stay at least 100 yards away from the bird or nest. Disturbing bald eagles at the nest site could lead to the abandonment of eggs.
Citizen scientists can submit sightings at wildohio.gov/reportwildlife from Saturday, February1 to Tuesday, March 31.