Winter’s a great time to spot Ohio’s growing bald eagle population

Credit: Jim Weller

Credit: Jim Weller

With the bald eagle population continually growing compared to years ago, Ohio’s most recognizable bird is preparing for its most critical time.

The cold months of December through February allow bald eagles to resume their courtship and bond through nest building. This grants more opportunities to see the birds in their natural habitat as the population continues to grow.

“Eagles are one of the earliest nesters here in Ohio, said Ohio Division of Wildlife communications specialist Kathy Garza-Behr. “The eagles start to pair bond, form a reproductive relationship, in fall through December. In December and January, the pairs will begin to finish nest building and begin the breeding season. Eggs are laid in mid-February.”

In recent years, the bald eagle community in Ohio has grown dramatically. In 1979, the Department of Natural Resources recorded only four nesting pairs in all of Ohio. The department believes nests increase with the help of rehabilitation, restoration, and conservation of the birds.

“Bald eagles are flourishing in Ohio because of improved habitat and water quality in wetlands, and this habitat will only continue to improve through wetlands restored and created through our H2Ohio initiative,” Gov. Mike Dewine said in a Department of Natural Resources news release.

In April 2020, the department’s Wildlife Division released its bald eagle nest census results for 2020. Biologists confirmed 707 bald eagle nests being recorded. The 2012 nest census recorded 281 nests, meaning there was a 150% increase in eight years.

The division’s bald eagle census noted that 2020 marked the first time the number of nests was measured since bald eagles were removed from the state’s threatened species list in 2012.

In Montgomery County, nests went from one in 2012 to three in 2020, the division’s count shows. Miami County went from no nests to five; Greene County from none to four; Warren from two to four; Clark from one to five; Hamilton from one to three; and Preble from one to three.

The bald eagle is one of the most distinguishable birds in the world. Their bright white head, dark brown body, and yellow beak set the bird apart from others. When viewing bald eagles it is important to stay at least 100 feet away, being sure not to disturb their nest.

All nest sightings can be reported at or through the HuntFish OH mobile app.

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