A Protective Partnership

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By Karen Menard
Photo by Angie Cole

A Bald Eagle pair was recently spotted adding to their nest on a very cold day. Mid-February through March is actually prime nesting season for Bald Eagles. They may even be viewed covered in snow while sitting on a clutch of 1 to 3 eggs.

Bald Eagles mate for life and establish their strong pair bond often by preening each other, touching bills, delivering prey items and sharing nesting tasks. However, it is nest building that very much strengthens their bond.

Returning year after year to the same nest, this pair will annually add approximately 1 to 2 feet of material to the amazing structure, which will reach 3 to 5 feet across and 3 to 6 feet deep, weighing hundreds to even thousands of pounds.

Both birds continuously work together to protect the nest from predators, taking turns incubating the eggs and feeding their young. While both the male and female have brood patches for keeping eggs warm (approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit!), the female does most of the sitting, while the male hunts for food and keeps watch nearby.

Bald Eagles are “raptors,” or birds of prey. Raptors are considered good indicators of ecosystem health and crucial to maintaining a balance within the ecosystems upon which we all depend.

Consider participating in Metroparks long-term breeding raptor monitoring program. An orientation training is scheduled for February 23. Please contact, Annie Devine, volunteer coordinator, at: 419-407-9841.