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The future looks bright for bald eagles

It doesn’t seem like that many years ago that we celebrated finding a bald eagle's nest in the area. At that time there were very few nests in Ohio with the best chance of seeing eagles being at Ottawa National Wildlife Area, east of Toledo. I can remember being quite excited to see an adult bald eagle along Highway 2 in the Sandusky area.
 
Gradually the eagles began expanding, mainly along Lake Erie and in areas with rivers and reservoirs. However, some years ago I began getting calls from people who were seeing eagles flying over their land or perched in a tree where they had not been seen in the past. Numbers of bald eagles continued to expand, much as ospreys did, often in the same general locations.
 
What brought this to my attention last week was a report from Bob and Denise Lane, who live in Northeastern Ohio. The Lanes regularly visit the Conneaut, Ohio harbor, a well-known location for migrant shorebirds, gulls and many other interesting birds.
 
The Lanes counted 81 bald eagles at the Conneaut harbor on Aug. 7. Twenty-three of these were adults, and 58 were immature birds. A few years ago a count like that in Ohio would have been unthinkable, something that gets reported from Alaska.
 
An interesting post by biologist John Blakeman of Sandusky helps to explain the increase in bald eagles at Conneaut and other Ohio locations. Blakeman said there are over 300 bald eagle nests in Ohio in 2017. That means at least 600 adult birds along with the young eagles hatched in 2017. Add to that another 600 or so “floaters” (unmated young adult birds), and you can see there are a lot of eagles in Ohio these days.
 
Bald eagles are known to gather in social groups after the nesting season, thus the reports of huge numbers in Alaska, British Columbia and other western locations. So it shouldn’t be surprising that we are seeing growing numbers of eagles together at this time of year. Blakeman said he expects this to happen at other locations around the state, especially at other Lake Erie locations such as Sandusky Bay.
 
While bald eagles are mainly fish eaters, in recent years they have been increasingly taking advantage of road-killed deer and other mammals. This has allowed them to thrive in areas that don’t have readily accessible fishing locations. The future looks bright for these beautiful raptors.
 
There has been a flurry of rare-bird activity recently. A white ibis was found at Deer Creek State Park on the seventh while a male ruff was reported in Hancock County on the same date. At East Fork State Park six laughing gulls surprised local birders.
 
The monthly bird census at Ottawa NWR on Aug. 6 yielded a total of 98 species. Most interesting to me was a total of 93 trumpeter swans. There also were 235 great egrets along with 12 species of shorebirds. Yellow warblers are moving, and oriole numbers seem to be on the increase. This is an interesting time of year to be out looking for migrant birds.
 
Good birding!
 

Published: August 11, 2017
New Article ID: 2017170809921