This morning, this was the view from our patio, just before sunrise on a good day for the local eagles:
Yesterday, the oldest of the two chicks, 22 days old, stuck its head well above the rim of the nest:
Visit earlier posts on this subject, and our Eagle Web pages that describe the history of the first active Bald Eagle in Broward County since DDT was abolished in the 1970s. This pair of eagles chose to nest near a busy road in Pembroke Pines, Florida, only two miles from our home. The nest is on City of Pembroke Pines property, at the edge of a 20 acre patch of woodland that is surrounded on two sides by dense housing developments. A nearby high school and a police shooting range add to the disturbances tolerated by the eagles, which successfully raised one chick this past year.
There has been ongoing concern about installation, by the County School Board, of traffic signal lights that would involve excavation and construction within 200 feet of the nest, which now contains two chicks.
Today, we received good news from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) that agreement has been reached with the School Board to delay construction activity near the nest. Work within 330 feet of the nest tree will be postponed until the eagle chicks have fledged, which should be some time in April.
Construction that is 330 feet to 660 feet away from an eagle nest may be granted a permit allowing FWC to set conditions on the type and timing of any activity, to minimize disturbance during the breeding season. However, the agency must prohibit any and all activity within 330 feet of the nest. FWC lacks authority to take punitive action unless disturbance from such activity is shown to result in nest abandonment, or injury or death to an eagle. Enforcement is voluntary, but the penalty for causing the “take” of an eagle can be very severe.
Now that construction is on a voluntary hold, FWC urges eagle watchers to avoid creating any additional disturbance within the 330 foot perimeter. Within the next month, the eaglets will reach a critical time when they are more apt to be injured or killed, as they begin to climb out of the nest and test their wings. If frightened, they may fall from the tree. Lacking full powers of flight, they may fall to the ground and, even if they survive the fall, risk being killed by predators or abandoned by their parents.
The adult eagles seem more suspicious of people walking about than the many vehicles that pass by. The usual vantage point for viewing or photographing the eagles is on the shoulder of the road, only 205 feet from the nest. While it is true that pedestrians commonly pass back and forth on a grassy swale that is even closer, and the birds have accommodated the presence of humans at this distance, please consider your responsibility to observe the 330 foot limitation.