We put these guidelines out last year after so much interest in the eagle's nest and reports of other nests in the area.
It is critical that if you find a Bald Eagle's nest (or any bird nest actually), that you follow these guidelines. Bald Eagles and most birds are VERY sensitive to activity around their nests. If you bother them, they may fly away and MAY NOT BREED THAT YEAR. If there are eggs in the nest they may abandon them; they may even abandon young birds.
PLEASE READ THESE GUIDELINES and if you find a nest, make sure that you follow the information that is written here. I will add a PLEASE to that. Please let the birds breed, nest and raise their young in peace. You can observe, but read the information below so you know what you should and should not do. Again - PLEASE.
GUIDELINES FOR BALD EAGLE NEST OBSERVATION AND PHOTOGRAPHY
We humans are curious creatures and it is often difficult for us to just leave things alone. This is one of those cases where leaving things alone is absolutely the best thing to do. Unless you have a compelling interest to see the nest (and you really don't) or to photograph it (and this is not the ideal location for that), then leave it alone. There are plenty of places on the internet where you can observe bald eagles nesting and raising their young. You will be able to see more of the nest from a much closer distance and you can watch from the comfort of your living room. Plus, you will not be doing anything that may cause the eagles to abandon their nest, their eggs or their young. Here are some sites you can visit:
There are many others around. Just Google "Bald Eagle Cams".
REMEMBER: The Bald Eagle is protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and they are very sensitive to humans near the nest.
Here are some basic guidelines:
- Approach the nest slowly and quietly. You can only approach the nest via a boat.
- Don't get any closer than 330 feet - that is just a little more than the length of a football field. This is the distance recommended by the United State Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Getting closer does not help you see the eagles. Because they are so high, you can only see them if you keep your distance.
- Don't talk loudly or wave your arms to get them to react. If anything you do causes the eagle to stop what it is doing, YOU ARE DISTURBING IT. It may be a minor disturbance such as causing them to stop preening and turn to look at you or it can be as serious as causing it to leave the nest which is a CRITICAL DISTURBANCE.
- Watch for behavior that indicates the eagle is getting agitated. He may stop what he is doing, vocalize, change his position into an alert posture, raise its wings or lean forward slightly as if about to leave the nest. If this happens, move slowly away and don't come back for at least an hour.
- DO NOT GO TO THE LAND AND APPROACH THE TREE CONTAINING THE NEST (Picking up feathers, even those dropped by the eagles to the ground is a FELONY. Believe me, they do enforce this law. Penalties include a maximum of five years and $250,000 fine for felony convictions and a maximum $10,000 fine for civil violations and $250 for marking violations. Fines double for organizations. Rewards are provided for information leading to arrest and conviction. violation of the Act).
- You might consider using something like a duck blind netting on your boat. Eagles are disturbed more by what they see - like humans near their nest. With a blind on your boat, you can observe them with less likelihood of disturbing them.
- Do not linger. Watch them for a minute or two, take your pictures, and then leave them alone.
- Don't tell anyone else about the nest location unless you are 100% sure they will be respectful and follow these guidelines.
Here is an interesting chart about nesting and the times that eagles are most likely to be disturbed.
From the USFWS website: http://www.fws.gov/midwest/eagle/conservation/baea_nhstry_snstvty.html
Again, let me say that it is best to leave them alone. Visit the webcams. It will not take much to cause the eagles to abandon their nest. If you must go see them, please follow these guidelines and don't do anything to disturb them.