Eagle or Heron?

For years there was a bald eagle (Haliasetus leucocephalus) nest on a ponderosa pine near Baum Lake. Any time I had the urge to observe bald eagles I could almost be guaranteed to find one in or about that tree.

2011 Nesting Heron

That was until last year. Early in the spring of 2011 I discovered great blue herons (Ardea herodias) sitting on the eagle nest. A bald eagle would occasionally visit the nest – but only for a brief period of time. And I never saw more than one eagle at a time at the site. As the breeding season progressed, the herons built three additional nests in the tree and the eagle(s) did not use their old, massive nest. I was sad that young bald eagles were no longer being raised there.

Two Bald Eagles

Recently I visited the “bald eagle tree” again. Yes!! Sitting in the main nest was a bald eagle and a second adult eagle was on a branch next to the nest. I took some pictures then moved to a new position. Before I could take any more photographs the eagle in the nest flew and began to soar overhead. I watched the second eagle for a long time before it also began to fly overhead. The two eagles circled for perhaps ten minutes then disappeared. Maybe this pair will reclaim the nest for the 2012 breeding season.

Eagle Near Main Nest

About six hours later, after an afternoon of hiking, I checked out the nest from a distance with binoculars. There was a great blue heron sitting on the ponderosa and nearby a bald eagle was watching the tree. I could not see any birds in any of the nests. It was nearly dark so I left the eagle and heron to sort things out. However, I am anxious to return to the nest tree and find out whether the eagles or herons claimed the territory. Personally I am pulling for the eagle. There are many great blue heron nests in the area and fewer bald eagle nests.

The picture of the heron on one of the new nests in the ponderosa was taken in 2011. The bald eagle pictures are from two days ago. In the picture of the eagle in the main nest, the second eagle can be seen on a branch at about 4:00. The other photo is of the second eagle after the first one flew off.

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1 Response to Eagle or Heron?

  1. Pingback: Update on “Eagle or Heron?” | The Nature Niche

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