Birders are generally well aware of Bald Eagles on our regular outings into eagle country. That’s why it may come as a surprise that few people in the general public – the “normies”, as I like to call them* – realize that Bald Eagles are actually pretty ubiquitous in any body of water of significant size. Much of this likely stems from the days when populations of Eagles and other raptors were ravaged by rampant DDT use and finding a Bald Eagle, let alone an active nest, was a rare treat. For much of the general public this is still the case, despite the fact that the Bald Eagle has rebounded such that it was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2007. It’s quite rightly considered one of the great conservation success stories of the 20th Century, and as it turns out, Bald Eagles are actually quite flexible when it comes to living near people. Jordan Lake, at the southern tier of a region with a population of over a million, hosts no fewer than five active Eagle nests, with several more at Falls Lake to the north of Raleigh. A flashy species located near a lot of people seems to be a no-brainer for some sort of citizen science outreach program.
And lo and behold, there’s one here in North Carolina, organized through North Carolina State University and the Army Corp of Engineers. It consists of a simple camera mounted above a Bald Eagle nests at Jordan Lake. Birders, or any other interested parties, can watch in real time as a pair of Bald Eagles tend to a pair of chicks that hatched no more than two weeks ago. Observers can even help monitor the chick’s growth by emailing the project coordinator or posting on Facebook when the adults bring food or hang out at the nest for any extended period of time or any other interesting or noteworthy behaviors.
This pair of eagles has successfully fledged young for each of the last three years, so odds are good that at least one of the two chicks will get out of the nest. They’re still small now, but it won’t be long before growing chicks will necessitate ever more frequent hunting forays by the two adults, generally the most exciting time to watch these sorts of live feeds.
Fortunately, you’ve got some time before that happens. Bald Eagles take up to three months to go from newly hatched to newly fledged. So for the next several weeks, you can have the privilege of watching these chicks grow until they finally join the rest of the eagle population on Jordan Lake and beyond. An exciting time, indeed!
So go check it out, and don’t forget to help out!
*I’ve never actually called them this…. to their faces