Conserve Wildlife Blog

Keep Your Distance

March 14th, 2012

Respect Signage to Protect Bald Eagle Nests

by Margaret O’Gorman, Executive Director

The recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population is a great success story for the state and for the many biologists, conservationists and volunteers involved in the effort.  This recovery has been over 20 years in the making with over 100 pairs now breeding in New Jersey, a huge increase from the late eighties when one pair remained in our state.

Bald Eagle pair © George Cevera

While we celebrate the success of our eagle population, we must now begin to deal with the fact that eagle nests are increasingly located in places where more people can view them and get close to these magnificent birds and who wouldn’t want to observe these iconic species?

But close observation can be dangerous to these birds and damaging to the continued recovery of the population.  Bald eagles do not react well when people or pets get too close to their nests.  They can be easily disturbed by humans in close proximity and this disturbance can cause them to expend valuable energy when flushed or, at the extreme, to abandon their nests leaving eggs to fail or newly hatched chicks to die.

The USFWS Bald Eagle Management Plan says it best:  “If agitated by human activities, eagles may inadequately construct or repair their nest, may expend energy defending the nest rather than tending to their young, or may abandon the nest altogether. Activities that cause prolonged absences of adults from their nests can jeopardize eggs or young. Depending on weather conditions, eggs may overheat or cool too much and fail to hatch. Unattended eggs and nestlings are subject to predation. Young nestlings are particularly vulnerable because they rely on their parents to provide warmth or shade, without which they may die as a result of hypothermia or heat stress. If food delivery schedules are interrupted, the young may not develop healthy plumage, which can affect their survival. In addition, adults startled while incubating or brooding young may damage eggs or injure their young as they abruptly leave the nest.”

The biologists at the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program responsible for recovering the bald eagle population post eagle nests to show a safe distance from which to observe them. They do this posting to protect the recovery of the population and the investment of time and money that made the recovery happen.

If you truly love bald eagles and support their continued recovery, please keep outside the posted distance. If you want to watch these birds, please invest in a high quality viewing scope and if you want to photograph them, buy a good zoom lens for your camera.

Protect the recovery by honoring the postings.

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3 Responses to “Keep Your Distance”

  1. I am not sure I agree with the “experts”. I have observed a pair of eagles for the last six years. Where do the come back to year after year to nest and successuflly raise their young? In the middle of a landfill with big, loud machinery all around them.

  2. Bill Jackson says:

    First, the folks at Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service ARE experts,so your use of quotation marks is insulting and rude.

    Second, where is the pair you have observed? Certainly not in NJ. Alaska perhaps, where eagles might be habituated to such activity, but not in this state.

    Third, are you sure they are eagles? To many people, every large raptor is an “eagle” just like evey small one is a “falcon”.

  3. Okay, talk about being insulting. Yes, I do know what a Bald Eagle looks like and have photographed several in various locations accross the US. The Eagles I referred to are in Florida. I did not mean the folks at the US Fish and Wildlife are not experts, but that my take is that experts are not always correct.

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