Census shows: Comeback of bald eagles continues

Staff writer

Ottawa and Sandusky counties top the list of counties in Ohio with bald eagle nests, according to a census undertaken in February and March by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
In all, 707 bald eagle nests were counted in the state census, an increase of about 151 percent from a 2012 census when 281 nests were recorded in Ohio.
In Ottawa County, 90 nests were counted – the highest in the state – and 44 more than were counted in 2012. Sandusky County saw its total increase from 33 in 2012 to 50 this year.
Researchers said counties along or near Lake Erie have the highest numbers of bald eagle nests as the birds thrive near the lake because of the availability of food and nesting habitat.
Erie County, with 32 nests this year, Seneca County with 24; Wyandot, 19; Lucas, 18, Licking, 17, and Ashtabula, Knox, Mercer and Wood counties with 16 each, are the next highest counties.
The division of wildlife received approximately 2,500 reports from the public for the 2020 census. Wildlife officers and biologists verified nest locations in 85 counties.
The bald eagle is considered one of the state’s great wildlife success stories. In 1979, there were only four nesting pairs in Ohio and they were on the endangered species list.
Partnerships between the division of wildlife, Ohio zoos, landowners and wildlife rehabilitation facilities helped the bird’s comeback and by 2007 it was removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species and from Ohio’s list in 2012.
“We are grateful to every Ohioan who contributed to this effort and those who support conservation of high quality habitat that kept eagles nesting in Ohio,” Kendra Wecker, chief of the division of wildlife, said.
Bald eagles in Ohio usually lay eggs and incubate in February and March. Young eagles leave the nest about three months later. The birds nest in large trees such as sycamores, oaks, and cottonwoods near large bodies of water. Fish and carrion are their preferred foods.
Bald eagles are still covered by state law and the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, making it illegal to disturb them.
Research and habitat protection is funded by the sale of special license plates, income tax check-off donations to the Endangered Species and Wildlife Diversity Fund and the sale of Ohio Wildlife Legacy stamps.
Viewing opportunities are available at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Pickerel Creek Wildlife Area in Sandusky County, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area in Trumbull County, and Killdeer Plains Wildlife Areas in Wyandot and Marion counties.
In southern Ohio, eagle nests are found near major rivers such as the Muskingum, Hocking, Scioto and Great Miami.


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