We've managed to attract a nesting pair of Bald Eagles to my preserve. The nest is two miles from the Philadelphia city line in the most densely populated portion of the third most populous county in Pennsylvania.
There are other nesting Bald Eagles in similar situations in Pennsylvania; in fact, eagles are nesting in areas even more urban than my preserve. The difference is that those nests generally are along large rivers that can provide a reliable source of fish. My creek is far too small to be a dependable food source, and the fish in my creek are too diminutive to feed eagles and their offspring. Furthermore, the creek ices over if it's really cold.
No, the draw isn't fish. It's roadkilled deer. Our organization collects deer struck on the roads surrounding our preserve - both as a courtesy to the municipalities and as a way to get biological information about the deer herd. Once my staff has collected the carcasses, we place them in a an open field where they are quickly devoured by coyotes, foxes, black and turkey vultures, crows, and (this year) ravens and eagles. We've seen eagles availing themselves of deer carcasses in the past, but always individually and always for just a day or so. This is the first time a pair has decided that there's enough food to sustain a family.
The eagles took over a Red-tailed Hawk nest in a huge white pine tree and augmented it significantly. There's no evidence of eggs yet, but there's still time. The Game Commission said that the birds may be a young pair constructing a "practice nest." Naturally, we hope they use it to raise a brood.
The image above was taken by a photographer who only identified himself as Frank when he sent it to me in an email. The nest and this dead tree are about a third-mile from the best location for photography, so it takes a photographer with good equipment to capture a decent image.
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