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Amazing Raptors Start to Thrive Once More in Ohio.

March 10, 2012

Bald Eagle

Last week I was out looking for waterfowl on two different trips around central Ohio.  On both of those days, I spotted something more exciting than the expected ducks- two different pairs of amazing raptors that are the national bird of the United States.

The first pair I saw flying overhead at Hoover Reservoir, just north of Columbus.  I didn’t know what I photographed at first, it happened so fast.  They flew out of some nearby trees, and they were quite a bit larger than the typical hawk.  Needless to say, I was excited to see them!

Bald Eagles are very impressive birds.  Averaging about a yard long, their wingspan is between 6 and 7 feet- that’s a very large eagle.  The first time you see one, their size really strikes you.

The classic brown and white color pattern is an adult plumage.  It can take a young bird up to 5 years to achieve this coloration.  Young birds are mostly brown.  These birds can live to be as old as 30 years of age or so.

Bald Eagles are plentiful in Canada and Alaska.  Their numbers declined alarmingly in the continental United States by the mid-20th century due to a variety of factors, including habitat loss, hunting, power-line electrocution, and pesticides which made their eggshells very fragile.  After DDT was banned, their population rebounded to the point where they were taken off of the Endangered Species List in 1995.  Growing numbers of nesting pairs inhabit Ohio for example, where 116 nests have been observed this year.

Eagles live near water because they primarily eat fish; they don’t always fish for them, however.  They’ve been known to harass other birds who’ve caught fish, taking their meals from them.  This led Benjamin Franklin in 1784 to object to making the Bald Eagle the national bird.  Ben preferred the Wild Turkey, but that preference didn’t work out for him.

The majority of eagle nests in Ohio are near Lake Erie.  However, there is a place in central Ohio where a Bald Eagle nest is used repeatedly year after year by a pair of birds- perhaps the same birds, for Bald Eagles mate for life.  This is in Highbanks Metro Park, along the 100-foot-tall shale bluffs overlooking the Olentangy River.  This is where I went the day after seeing the eagles flying near Hoover Reservoir.  And once again, I was not disappointed in what I saw.

There is an observation deck in the park which is a good vantage point from which to see the eagles.  I walked out to it through the spring woods.

A thousand years ago, the Adena Indian people had a village here, surrounded by earthworks and a moat.  The remnants of the moat is still used by salamanders to spawn each spring.

The day I went out was sunny and very windy; it was the first week of March, and the month was certainly roaring in like a lion.  I walked out to the observation deck, a vantage point from which you can see the eagle’s nest in a old and tall sycamore tree along the bank of the Olentangy River.

The view is a fine one, 100 feet or so above the river.  The tall white trees are sycamores.  March is a good month to look for the eagles- not only are they nesting then, but there are no leaves to obscure one’s view.

February and March are eagle nesting times.  Their nests are perhaps the largest in the bird world, being up to 8 feet in diameter and as much as 13 feet tall- these monstrous objects can literally weigh a ton!  The reason they become so big is that they can be reused year after year and they are added to each successive year.  It’s pretty hard to miss an eagle nest.  There’s an eagle there too!

Occasionally, an eagle would soar over the river in the buffeting winds.  And the winds were so strong that tree branches in the forest were smacking together rather loudly at times.  I don’t know how I managed to keep my hat on.

The soaring eagle rested on a branch down below along the river.  That’s one noble-looking bird, and it’s an unforgettable sight to see one.  May their numbers increase!

Now, back to looking for waterfowl…I almost forgot about them in all of the excitement 🙂

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2012 7:01 pm

    What a gift you were given and thank you for sharing with us!

  2. March 10, 2012 7:01 pm

    How fortunate you are, Tracy, to see such magnificent creatures is such great numbers. A great and informative post. Great photos, too. 🙂

  3. March 10, 2012 7:02 pm

    Great shots! Who was it that was saying they don’t see eagles in Ohio? Beautiful birds, aren’t they?

    • March 12, 2012 10:56 am

      They’re very impressive indeed- they have that no-nonsense look about them, and their size is almost intimidating.

  4. March 10, 2012 7:33 pm

    Great captures!

  5. March 10, 2012 7:37 pm

    Cool! They’re common as dirt where I live (or at least, it seems that way sometimes; I see them on roadkill along the county highways pretty regularly), but I never get tired of them.

  6. March 10, 2012 8:39 pm

    Absolutely awesome. I would still be smiling if I was you. The majestic eagles holds the heart of so many many millions of us. I’ve never seen one out in the wild. You’re so lucky to have captured them so beautifully. Thank you for sharing these magnificent creatures with us. 🙂

  7. March 10, 2012 9:11 pm

    What a treat!

  8. March 10, 2012 10:16 pm

    I’m heading out to find some eagles!

  9. March 10, 2012 11:35 pm

    How exciting. Bald eagles affect me like no other bird. I am in awe of them. They have a majesty about them. I would probably faint if one was close enough to me to photograph in the wild. Seriously.

  10. March 11, 2012 1:09 am

    Beautiful shots of the bald eagles. Interestingly, the other day, here in Connecticut, a bald eagle landed in my friend’s back yard. She got a picture of it with its back toward her, standing on the ground. How exciting that you got these amazing shots!

  11. March 11, 2012 5:28 am

    An amazing bird – you had some wonderful sightings. It looks like a lovely part of the world, too.

  12. March 11, 2012 9:57 am

    I also love the eagles. They are magnificent birds and your captures are wonderful. Thanks for sharing these 🙂

  13. John Northcutt Young permalink
    March 11, 2012 11:41 am

    The next best thing to being there, great shots and story as always.

  14. March 11, 2012 4:22 pm

    Your fortunate to have the Eagles come back. We had a nesting pair very close to our house, and last year after a several storm the nest with both Eaglets went crashing to the forest floor, killing both babies. I’ve looked to see if they’re re-building, but nothing yet. Nice pictures.

  15. March 11, 2012 8:59 pm

    Hi Watching Seasons, Wow! Excellent shots of the very majestic Bald Eagles! Kudos! I so enjoyed your post. Have a wonderful coming week.

  16. March 12, 2012 2:53 pm

    Beautiful pictures! A friend identified owl feathers in our yard over a year ago and I finally spotted it last week–excitement!

  17. March 12, 2012 3:14 pm

    Impressive! Lucky you!

  18. March 12, 2012 5:32 pm

    Excellent photos. And what a beautiful area!

  19. March 12, 2012 8:39 pm

    Fantastic photos; I felt like I was participating in an adventure! What gorgeous birds.

  20. March 14, 2012 1:03 pm

    Wonderful photos! Aren’t they amazing? I saw two while out on a hike a couple of weeks ago, in a place I have never seen them before. I was so thrilled. I’ve been wanting to get back there to see if they decided to stay or if they moved on.

  21. March 14, 2012 11:51 pm

    Aren’t they awesome! I’m fortunate here to be able to see them over the river every day and they never fail to fill me with awe.

  22. March 17, 2012 10:22 am

    Thanks for all of the great comments everybody!

  23. March 17, 2012 11:10 pm

    These shots are so beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing them!

  24. March 19, 2012 9:49 am

    Wonderful photos, Tracy! What a great place to see the eagles – they are beautiful!

  25. April 8, 2012 11:03 am

    Fabulous images – thanks you for sharing here!

Trackbacks

  1. Ohio Road Trip – Mohican State Forest. « Seasons Flow

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