Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bald Eagle Nest

Eagle Street runs parallel to the Speed River before it turns and joins the Grand River. I wondered why this old street was named "Eagle Street" but assumed that eagles were found along the river at one time. Bald Eagles were on the verge of extirpation in Southern Ontario for decades as DDT weakened the shells of their eggs causing them to break. DDT was banned in the 1970s but it took many years to get the chemical out of the food chain. In the past few years we have seen more Bald Eagles over-wintering along the Grand River especially where the water is open. They generally return north by March but this year a pair decided to stay and build a nest just a few minutes from our home. Eagle nests are closely monitored by naturalists at Bird Studies Canada and their success rate is slowly improving. Time will tell if these new arrivals will raise any young birds this year.

The nest is in a small bush in the middle of a cornfield approximately 700 m from the river's edge. The pine tree was heavily damaged in last December's ice storm but the eagles found a strong crook to anchor the nest. I stood near a busy roadway to take this picture but the nest was not visible without binoculars. It is good that this field is private property as it would be a great temptation for some photographers to get too close to the nest and harass the birds for a picture.

I pulled into a park on the opposite side of the road and saw the female Bald Eagle sitting on the nest. Close to the river is an Osprey nest that has been occupied for several years. A female Osprey sat on her nest and the male was very vigilant. He flew low over the field then soared above the Bald Eagle nest several times. The female Bald Eagle was very vocal when the Osprey entered her territory. 

Osprey Nest and male Osprey flying over Bald Eagle nest

It will be interesting to see how these two different eagles will share adjacent territories that are within visual range. Some local photographers have captured pictures of intimidating sparring between the male birds on the corn field.

The male Bald Eagle returned with a stick for the nest. Both birds spent time building up the nest by moving branches around with their beaks. 

I sat on a rock and watched the action for about an hour. These cropped pictures were taken with a 50x optical zoom and it was challenging to hold the camera steady without a tripod in early morning light.

I was very fortunate to be clicking the shutter when the male Bald Eagle decided to fly away to find more sticks. Bald Eagles are magnificent in flight and are considerably larger than the Osprey although the Osprey were more aggressive here. 

These Bald Eagles have a local fan base and several friendly people stopped to watch them as the morning progressed. I know I will be checking by throughout the season to see how the birds are getting along.


  1. WOW!!! and again,WOW!!! These pictures are wonderful.Oh I do hope that both species of magnificent birds can nest successfully.

  2. Thanks Ruth. You see quite a few Bald Eagles in your area. Do they nest around your home?

  3. What a delight to have them so nearby. That last shot is outstanding.

  4. What a thrill for you. We saw one around the corner a few years ago but not since then.

  5. I saw a bald eagle land right by the side of the road (in a small pine) while I was driving a few blocks from my home the other day. My camera broke back in January so I have been relying on my tablet and it just doesn't cut it. That said, in spite of my lack of decent evidence as to the encounter (I ran home and grabbed my bird loving son to go see it but it was gone by then, rwar!) it was a beautiful sight.

    Almost as lovely as osprey. ~_^
    (My personal favorites.)

  6. Great shots! How exciting to be able to see and photograph the nest activity.


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