By Carolyn A. Marsh
The proliferation of Bald Eagles in North America has extended its range into the bistate Calumet Region. Eagles are seen flying over Lake Michigan, the bi-state Wolf Lake, Little Calumet and Grand Calumet Rivers and wetlands.
In February my friend and I saw a congregation of 14 Bald Eagles in a wooded peninsula in Lake Calumet in southeast Chicago. The majority of those were migrants that passed through to northern territories, others were born locally.
If there is enough wooded habitat, eagles will stay, nest and live here year round. In the winter, they feed in partially open sections of lakes and rivers to hunt fish and ducks. Other prey are turtles, snakes, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, muskrats, beavers, and other small carrions.
It is not so easy to identify juveniles and sub-adults. It takes about five years for the immature to reach sexual maturity to breed, developing a white head and tail. The female and male are identical.
Conservationists are glad the public is interested in these magnificent birds. However, eagles should be protected during the nesting period. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines state staying at least 330 feet from an active nest. This is particularly important if the nest is open to the public and not on “No Trespassing” protected private property. http://www.fws.gov/northeast/ecologicalservices/eagle.html
There are many regional records of failed attempts at reproduction or of injured juveniles. One of two Gary fledglings born in 2016 was found injured and unable to fly near its nest site . It was on death row when it was rescued August 3, 2016 and taken to the Moraine Ridge Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
The eagle is permanently disabled and will not be released in the wild, but will be cared for educational purposes.
Photos by David Gruver
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