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Bald Eagle nest check time

Lauren Dinan

Contributed by Lauren Dinan, Nongame Bird Biologist

Spring is here, which means Bald Eagles are hunkered down on eggs waiting for them to hatch. This also means that we will be out checking eagle nests to determine which nests are active this year.  Bald Eagle nest monitoring is annual project of the Nongame Bird Program in Nebraska, but we do not do this alone. With the increasing number of eagles nesting in the state, we rely on the assistance of numerous partners and individuals such as the National Park Service-Missouri River National Recreational River, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and members of the public just like you.

A view of a Bald Eagle nest from a distance. Almost all Bald Eagle nests in Nebraska are in cottonwood trees.

This time of year is perfect for checking eagle nests for several reasons: 1) adult eagles are sitting tightly on nests incubating eggs, 2) there are no leaves on trees so the nests are easily visible, and 3) after a long cold winter being cooped up in the house it is nice to get outside and enjoy the nice weather.

If you look carefully you can see the adult eagle sitting on the nest.  Bald Eagles generally lay eggs in late February or early March and incubate the eggs for about a month.  An adult hunkered down on a nest during March is a good indicator as to whether a nest is active or not.

We are aware of most Bald Eagle nests, but there are each year there are new ones and we are interested in tracking them.  If you come across a Bald Eagle nest, particularly a “new” nest, while you are out and about this spring please contact us at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (contact information provided below) to report your sighting and let us know where the nest is located. Remember not to approach or harass the eagles.  Doing so may negatively affect these birds during this sensitive period and it can be a violation of federal law.  If you have binoculars or a spotting scope and can tell if there is an adult eagle sitting on the nest we appreciate that information but only if you can get that information from a distance.

If you have information about a Bald Eagle nest in your area please contact either Joel or I at the following locations:

Lauren Dinan: ngpc.nongamebird.temp@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5480

Joel Jorgensen: joel.jorgensen@nebraska.gov or 402-471-5440

Nongame Bird Blog

About Joel Jorgensen

Joel Jorgensen is a Nebraska native and he has been interested in birds just about as long as he has been breathing. He has been NGPC’s Nongame Bird Program Manager for eight years and he works on a array of monitoring, research, regulatory and conservation issues. Nongame birds are the 400 or so species that are not hunted and include the Whooping Crane, Least Tern, Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon. When not working, he enjoys birding.

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