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Building an eagle nest

Building Nests for Bald Eagles

a Leeds County Stewardship Council project


Species: Bald eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Status (SARO): endangered


Who: In 2007 members of the Leeds County Stewardship Council started a programme to help bring bald eagles back to eastern Ontario. They were inspired by the work of Phil Roberts, President of Essex County Field Naturalists, who had designed and built an artificial nesting platform that was successfully attracting nesting bald eagles.

What: Three volunteers, Garnet Baker, Dwayne Struthers and George Sheffield built the first nesting platform in their workshop. Then, together with other Stewardship Council volunteers, staff from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the St. Lawrence Bald Eagle Working Group, they picked a suitable site on a secluded lake to put up the nest. Eagles had recently been seen in the area but they weren’t nesting there. So with the help of a climbing team from Hydro One, they placed the nest high up in a white pine, overlooking the rest of the forest. Since then they’ve been monitoring the site and putting up more nests in the region. This year (2009) they’ve had their first success. A pair of eagles is nesting on one of their platform.

Why: Over the past century bald eagles have had a hard time in southern Ontario. In the early 1900s, about 200 pairs were successfully nesting from the Ottawa River to the lower Great Lakes. By the 1970s they were nearly extinct in the region. According to scientists the main cause for this was the wide spread use of pesticides. DDT and similar poisonous substances were being sprayed regularly along shorelines, wetlands and on farm land. The toxins were getting into the fish and other species that the bald eagles were feeding on. As a result they were not able to reproduce successfully. Once the use of DDT was banned bald eagle populations started to gradually recover. Now, thanks to the help of people across the country, bald eagles are back in much of their traditional habitat.

Some Interesting Facts:

  • there are 59 species of eagles in the world; in North America we have the bald eagle and the Golden Eagle
  • the bald eagle’s nest is the largest of any bird in North America – on average 1.5 to 2 metres across and 1 metre tall.
  • bald eagles can see three to four times farther than people; they can hear as well as we can but their sense of taste and smell are poorly developed.

Video Credits:

  • Writer: Susan Terrill
  • Camera: Douglas von Rosen
  • Editor: Douglas von Rosen
  • Music: Greg Forbes

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