Bald Eagle Resources
The bald eagle can be found in small concentrations throughout the U.S., particularly near sizeable bodies of water, natural and man-made. Some of the largest populations in North America are in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Canada, the Upper Great Lakes region, and Florida. In Ohio, the bald eagle’s stronghold is the marsh region of western Lake Erie. Observers are reminded that bald eagles and their nest sites are protected by state and federal laws. Any type of disturbance around a nest could cause the pair to abandon the nest or discourage them from using the nest in the future.
In 2012, there were 210 estimated nesting pairs of eagles in 62 of Ohio’s counties. There were an estimated 321 eaglets hatched in 2012.
2013 Eagle nest survey
The Division of Wildlife recently conducted its annual bald eagle nesting survey. The survey consists of flying five blocks that are roughly ten square miles each and looking for eagle nests in woodlots and along rivers. Two of the blocks which are located around Sandusky Bay on Lake Erie and Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area in NE Ohio are flown every year while the other three are rotated every year. This year, the other three blocks were located in Marion, Portage, and Muskingum Counties.
From the survey, biologists calculated that there are approximately 190 eagle nests within the state. This is a slight decrease from the estimate of 210 nests in 2012, but still indicates a very healthy and robust population of eagles within the state.
All of the active breeding pairs of eagles should be incubating eggs with a few already hatching. The Division will fly a production survey in late May to determine the number of young in each of the nests that was counted during the nest survey.
Mid Winter Bald Eagles
Although mid winter may seem like a cold and dreary time to be outdoors, it can be one of the most rewarding times to view one of our nation’s symbols, the bald eagle. During February and March eagles begin to lay and incubate their eggs.
Nests are much easier to see in the wintertime since the leaves have fallen. In addition, male and female eagles take turns incubating the eggs. As they switch, the eagles are easy to see and photograph. Frozen lakes and rivers often force eagles to expand their hunting grounds in search of food. Also, many of the species preyed upon by eagles are hibernating or hiding under a thick blanket of snow. Because of this, eagles are often seen in non traditional areas during this period. They can be seen sitting on frozen lakes or in open farm fields, and their large size and dark bodies are easy to spot against the white snow and ice.
The 2013 midwinter flight surveys counted 34 adult eagles and 38 immature eagles for a total of 72 bald eagles.
Although most eagle nests are found in the western Lake Erie marsh region, eagles can be found throughout Ohio. It should be noted, though, that eagles even though eagles are no longer listed, they are protected by the Bald Eagle Act. This period is a critical time for eagle reproduction and every effort should be made to reduce interference. Be sure to look for posted signs. Many nests are located in State Wildlife Refuges and access is not allowed. Other areas may also be posted as “No Trespassing” areas. Lastly, please remember that private property may not be entered without the landowner’s permission.
• Bald Eagle Delisted by USFWS
• Ohio Wildlife Population Status
• Eagle Publication for Educators (PDF)
• Wildlife Area Maps
• Buy Bald Eagle License Plates Online!