Bald Eagles Soar in Ohio's Skies
The bald eagle, our nation’s symbol, was once an endangered species. But now it is doing very well. For example, in 1979, only four nesting pairs of bald eagles lived in Ohio. As of 2008, our state’s bald eagle population includes more than 150 nesting pairs! For the latest Ohio bald eagle numbers, go to the bald eagle nesting report. To see bald eagles near you, check out our eagle viewing map.
The cause of the bald eagle decline was due to a loss of habitat and the use of pesticides. A pesticide is a chemical that farmers put on their fields to protect crops from harmful insects.
The problem with some pesticides is that when it rains the chemicals wash into streams, rivers, and lakes. The chemicals then get into fish. When bald eagles eat fish (their favorite food), the eagles get pesticides into their bodies. The pesticides then make it difficult for the big birds to reproduce. As a result, the eagle population crashed.
The good news is that once the harmful pesticides were made unlawful, the eagle population soared again. And the birds also got some help from the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Biologists took eaglets (young eagles) from Ohio zoos and placed them in wild eagle nests to be adopted by wild foster parents.
Today, bald eagles are no longer endangered nationally. In 2008, they were also downlisted to threatened in Ohio!
Bald eagles are not really bald. They just have white feathers on their head that makes them look bald at times. Adult bald eagles also have white tail feathers. The rest of their body is dark brown. Male and female bald eagles look alike, but the female is a little bigger. Their wingspan is six to seven and a half feet - probably taller than you!
Bald Eagle Nests
Bald eagle nests are huge, usually measuring three to five feet across and three to six feet deep (about the size of a bathtub). The largest eagle nest ever was located near Vermilion, Ohio. It was known as the "Great Nest" and measured eight and one half feet across and was 12 feet deep. Different pairs of eagles used the nest for more than 35 years. When it blew down in a storm in 1925 it weighed two tons!
Where Can I See a Wild Bald Eagle?
The best place to see bald eagles in the wild in Ohio is along the western Lake Erie shoreline. Most of the nests in our state are in the marshes along the lake, high in tall trees. The ODNR Division of Wildlife suggests looking for eagles at the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area or Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, both along State Route 2 west of Port Clinton. But the bald eagle population is growing quickly, (so find an eagle location near you). You may soon see a bald eagle soaring overhead at a large lake or river near you!
Return to WildKids Menu