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Bald eagles pair set up housekeeping in the Cape

By Staff | May 31, 2010

Two majestic bald eagles have constructed a tree-top nest near Rick Gardner’s home at Redfish Point.
Nearly three weeks ago the protected species began making an appearance on Gardner’s property.
“They chased a couple of Ospreys away from their perch and they catch fish every morning here,” said Gardner. “It looks like they left Fort Myers because of overpopulation and pollution.”
Gardner believes the birds chose Redfish Point as their home because they ran out of secluded locations across the bridge. He said his property has transformed into a sanctuary of sorts, even though the city offered to purchase a portion of it, he said.
The eagles, with wing spans that Gardner estimates at approximately eight feet, spend their mornings fishing in the river before it’s too hot.
Lori Blydenburgh, a planning technician with the City of Cape Coral, specializes in protected species. According to her records, there are a total of 12 bald eagle nests in Cape Coral, nine of which are active.
Because of their migratory nature and competition among other species, not every nest is being used all the time.
“Some eagles have more than one nesting site,” she said. “The reason why it’s back and forth is because grey horned owls can’t build their own, so they steal the eagle nests.”
Nesting season for the bald eagle is from Oct. 1 to May 15. Blydenburgh said if nests are discovered, it is her job to find their exact coordinates on GPS. Construction or development at that location is limited until the end of nesting season, which can last longer than May 15 if any of the eaglets aren’t strong enough to fly off on their own.
One eaglet fell out of its nest this season and was brought to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) on Sanibel Island, said Blydenburgh, where it was examined for injury and is being cared for until it can be released.
Coordinates for the nest are also sent to Florida Fish and Wildlife, she said, and in turn the nest is issued a temporary identification number. If the nesting location proves successful and eagles use it again the following year, it is given a permanent number.
The bald eagle was placed on the endangered species list in 1967. Forty years later in 2007, the U.S. Department of the Interior took it off the list, yet it’s still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the population of eagles within the lower 48 states has grown from 417 nesting pairs in 1963 to 9,789 breeding pairs in 2007.