Déjà vu in Illinois

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Déjà vu in Illinois

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This is the newly discovered nest only about 1 1/2 miles from our second home in Illinois-- probably the same pair that nested near there a couple of years ago, the first in Kane County since before the 1970s. The traffic problems are even worse than here in Florida, as the nest is just off a non-divided 50 MPH highway with small shoulders on a hill and curve. A couple of weeks ago, seeing the familiar hazard, I recommended to the Kane County Audubon Society that viewers use the vantage point in Hawk's Bluff Park, only four doors from our daughter's home.

Bald Eagles Causing Stir in Batavia

Updated: Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 8:49 AM CDT
Published : Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 8:49 AM CDT

FOX Chicago News

Chicago - A pair of bald eagles is causing quite a distraction in Batavia.

The eagles and their babies are living in a tree off of Randall Road on the Mooseheart School campus.

Police are warning, though, don't try to stop and see them. Police say it's illegal to view the eagles up close because that stretch of Randall Road is dangerous and usually has lots of speeders.

If you stop, you'll get a ticket, and if you walk onto the Mooseheart property, you'll get fined for trespassing.

There is a viewing area set up in Hawks Bluff Park, where you can use a special lens to see them.
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MORE Re: Déjà vu in Illinois

Despite their relatively low numbers in comparison to Florida, Illinois Bald Eagles are also becoming urbanized. This situation is so much like that in Pembroke Pines! The readers' comments are interesting and sound familiar. One difference seems to be that the State fish and wildlife agency has not yet weighed in about people on the Mooseheart School property walking right up under the nest tree. Mooseheart is a residential school-village on a huge tract of land that is partly forested.

Kane cops keep eagle eye on Mooseheart nest

May 26, 2010
By DENISE CROSBY dcrosby@stmedianetwork.com

Full story: http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/2315316,Denise-Crosby-Mooseheart-eagles_AU052610.article?plckCurrentPage=0&sid=sitelife.suburbanchicagonews.com

We all know when it comes to choosing a home, it's all about location, location, location. And in this case, the family could not have chosen a worse place to set up house.

Nestled — quite literally — in a tall tree on Mooseheart property off Randall Road in Batavia, Mr. and Mrs. Bald Eagle and kids have created such a distraction, the Kane County Sheriff's Department has issued a warning:

» Click to enlarge image
Two bald eagles sit on their nest in a tree on the Mooseheart property. The eagles have made a nest on the property for the second year in a row, with two confirmed eaglets.

(Scott Seifrid/For Sun-Times Med


• A sanctioned viewing area where the Mooseheart bald eagles may be viewed safely with a long-distance lens has been established off Deerpath Road at Hawks Bluff Park. Visit the Kane County Audubon Society website, www.kanecountyaudubon.org, for details and a map.

Stop to view the magnificent creatures and you'll get ticketed for illegal parking.

Cross the Mooseheart fence to get a closer look, and you'll get fined for trespassing.

Lt. Pat Gengler and the Sheriff's Department don't want to be the bad guys here. Even in the northern woods of Canada, Gengler said of his own experience, witnessing these spectacular creatures is truly "amazing." So he understands the thrill it gives the locals to be able to view and photograph these once rare birds that have only been bumped off the endangered species list since 2007.

But right now, it's the eagles doing the endangering.

Experts say most of the 200 bald eagles in the state live along the Illinois and Mississippi rivers. But as their population grows and our waterways become cleaner, they are beginning to make their way farther north.

The problem is, Mr. and Mrs. Eagle, who returned after nesting on Mooseheart property in 2009, chose to build their seasonal home close to an extremely dangerous stretch of Randall Road, where speeding drivers tend to zoom around the curve going 70 mph. So parking along the side of this road, even to witness the Second Coming, would simply not be tolerated.

"We've had enough accidents there, including fatalities," said Gengler. "We don't need any more."

The issue only intensified as media coverage about the bald eagles picked up. At first it was just a few cars. But as headlines appeared and word spread, more spectators arrived.

It's gotten so bad, said Gengler, that some people are actually parking on the west side of Randall and crossing the busy roadway to get closer to the nest. Some, like freelance photographer Scott Seifrid, even set up tripods off the fast-paced roadway.

"I've worked construction at night so I'm used to dangerous conditions," Seifrid said in his defense.

Still, the St. Charles wildlife enthusiast understands the warnings.

"It's gotten crazy out there," he added.

Sheriff's deputies will be patrolling the area and will issue tickets to vehicles parked along Randall Road, said Gengler. Also, those who ignore the "no trespassing" signs on Mooseheart property will be fined. No tickets have been issued yet.

"Right now, we are just telling people to move along, but we will start writing them," Gengler said. "The last thing we want is for these magnificent creatures to be associated with something tragic."

Jerry Hope, board member of the Kane County Audubon Society, also warns enthusiasts to stay at least 200 feet away from the nest, as there is concern the human invasion could prevent these bald eagles from returning. A sanctioned viewing area has been established off Deerpath Road at Hawks Bluff Park (go to www.kanecountyaudubon.org for more details and a map), which allows long-distance lenses to capture the awesome creatures.

Taking a look at some of the photos already shot, it's apparent why there's such a fuss.

"You watch people's faces go from curiosity to amazement," said Seifrid. "It's no wonder the bald eagle is an American icon."

>>Link to another photo


kp1999 wrote:
Preventing accidents and injuries is an excellent use of taxpayer dollars. My only beef with this is that the tickets should have been issued sooner. There are way too many people who have gotten away with parking very close to the roadway and running around on the shoulder, and some of them brought their kids! It's a public safety issue.

Mooseheart is private property. I don't blame them for wanting to keep people from trespassing. I certainly would appreciate that kind of legal protection if eagles nested in my backyard.

Also - the photographs (terrific, by the way) were taken by a freelance photographer, not a Beacon staff member.

To suggest a conspiracy seems a bit rash.
5/26/2010 8:40 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com
aurorapearl wrote:
And nice to know that the main media outlets were allowed to get Their pics, but smaller outlets are threatened with tickets for attempting to do the same. Nice play. Okay, not.
5/26/2010 7:23 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

aurorapearl wrote:
@bummin around the burbs: Call it whatever you like, but IMO it's not hate to question why taxpayer monies are being used in this manner, especially in light of the current economy. And if you were to look deeper, I think even a joker like you wouldn't have any problem solving the riddle I threw out.
5/26/2010 7:21 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com
mwinn54 wrote:
blaster you dont know what youre talking about...........down in ottawa the eagles are only there from mid december till mid march.......and they dont nest on plum island......those nest are not eagle nest........those are from other birds that do nest there in the summer.........when viewing the eagles on plum island you are either on the north side at the army core of engineers lock or you view them from on the south side from starved rock.......either way you are at least 1/8 of a mile away from the birds.........not directly below like the ones on mooseheart property.
5/26/2010 4:42 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

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bummin around the burbs wrote:
Let's review:

-There is a local news event happening where people are tresspassing to see eagles nesting.

-Police are active in the area, stopping people from tresspassing

-The newspaper runs an article on local news. The newspaper gives a map about where you can go to view the birds instead of tresspassing.

-Mwinn54 gets angry at the newspaper for doing what it is designed to do

-Kape is unable to feel emotion. Really? You're outraged that they refer to the eagle as 'kids' in the context of "Mr. and Mrs. Bald Eagle and kids." Go learn what 'human interest means. Oh, and by the way, a young eagle is called an 'eaglet' not a chick.

-Aurorapearl thinks this is all a conspiracy between Mooseheart, the police, and the Beacon.

Just want to make sure we are all on the same page! I don't understand all the hatred. It was an INTERESTING story and the photos are beautiful.
5/26/2010 3:26 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

aurorapearl wrote:
The real question should be Why the Kane County Sheriff's office is spending taxpayer money in this manner. Could it be for more overt reasons? Is there a connection between someone at Mooseheart and the KCSO and the news media? hmmmm Inquiring minds can be tricky.
5/26/2010 2:45 PM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

starphoenix wrote:
I just saw a bald eagle hovering in the sky above the Fox River near Silver Springs last week - it was absolutely amazing. I don't know what it is about these birds! But it's great to know that they are coming back.

I totally agree with the policing here - that road is absolutely dangerous with speeders; they are doing the right thing for everyone's safety.
5/26/2010 11:09 AM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

kbsr309 wrote:
So theres a couple of bald Eagles living near moosehart...BIG DEAL! Whoopy doo! Find something better to report about...like where the city got 15 million dollars for the new park along the fox river.
5/26/2010 10:27 AM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

blaster wrote:
These birds won't be scared away... good grief...there are viewing parties at Starved Rock every year where the eagles come back and nest all the time. So what if the paper tells you where they are....you can't get on Mooseheart property anyway, and if you do, the patrols will catch you, and if cars speeding by at 70mph doesn't bother them, viewing them from a park west of Randall Rd. won't either. They'll be fine. Besides, it's not like nobody knew about them until the paper ran this article...most people I've talked to already knew something was up. I was on Mooseheart property yesterday because I have access, and there are herons, swans, all sorts of wildlife. The birds aren't going to be scared off unless they sense a direct threat to their offspring. I'll take any bets right now that they'll be back next year. Any takers?
5/26/2010 8:56 AM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com
kape wrote:
Beat me to it, mwinn is exactly correct. The beacon fused, along with most every kind of news source, is loaded with dim wits from the top down. Not only do you dopes write about where the Eagles are. You put a map link on the story that pinpoints the nest. Your the same type of idiots that like to tell the rest of the world where are troops are actually located when they are in harms way!! Plus if your going to be a reporter, at least try to act like you have any idea about what your writing about. Eagles do not have kids, they would be refered to as chicks.
5/26/2010 8:18 AM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com

mwinn54 wrote:
darn right stay away from these birds.....they wont return if theyre bothered by humans.......what was the beacon fuse thinking writting a story knowing full well that these magnificent birds are very scarse in this area......that it would draw curiousity from people who dont know any better and will scare these birds away to never return......anything for a story.......not only should the driver get a ticket for illegal parking, and the trespasser be fined for trespassing.......the beacon fuse should have to pay the fines.
5/26/2010 12:23 AM CDT on suburbanchicagonews.com
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Re: MORE Re: Déjà vu in Illinois

Recent correspondence about the Illinois nest near our second home:

Denise wrote:
> Good morning Ken,
I do not know what day it happened but there is now a mowed path from the viewing area at Hawk's Bluff down toward Randall Rd. It stops about ten feet from the shoulder and from there a narrow path has been trampled that runs parallel to the road to directly across from the nest. There was much less activity this weekend, possibly due to heat and the holiday, and I did not see any police. The barricades were removed and new signs have been posted on the road that say "emergency stopping only" but I saw a few cars ignore them to stop briefly on the shoulder. Thank you for alerting the police and alleviating the hazard. No viewing or photo opportunity is worth that risk.

Do you know how long the eagles might stay at the nest this summer? I do not know how old the eaglets are or when they might start taking flight. Do you? I saw one flap his/her wings on Saturday and it was exciting for me to see the wingspan.


Hi, Denise-- I heard about the mowed trail at Hawk's Bluff Park. It provides quite a good view of the nest.

I knew there was a nest somewhere on Mooseheart School property, but first "discovered" it on May 1, which I think was a day or so before the chicks first peered over the edge of the nest. Judging from our two years of observing the nest in Florida, this suggests they may have been about 2-3 weeks old. The eaglets fledge at 11-12 weeks of age-- ours in Florida fledged at almost exactly 11 weeks both this year and last. Expect them to do a lot of flapping. In the two weeks before they fledge they will leap into the air and "helicopter" over the nest. Once they start going out on the limbs ("branching") they are about ready to take their first flight. The larger chick will usually fledge about 3 days before the smaller (usually younger) one.

If my estimate of the age of the Batavia [IL] chicks was correct, this means they might fledge between June 26 and July 3. Unlike many birds whose chicks leave the nest after flying, Bald Eagles tend to use the nest as a feeding platform. They coax the eaglets to return to the nest, and may continue feeding them at the nest for another 7-8 weeks, in our Florida experience. Assuming these northern birds follow the same pattern, this will provide great viewing opportunities through the month of August.

After first leaving the nest, the Florida chicks disappeared into the wooded area for 1-3 days, initially causing the observers some concern that they may have been injured. They run around on the ground and ladder their way up the surrounding trees. The parents continued to bring food to the nest. We sometimes could hear the chicks calling but did not see them again until they suddenly reappeared on the nest, probably driven back by hunger. During the first few days after fledging, they slept on the nest, but then began roosting on or near the nest tree, ready to meet the parents when they came in with prey. After flying for about a month, they began accompanying the parents when they foraged, but still followed them back to the nest to be fed.

Their first flight is very hazardous-- 25- 50% mortality is said to be associated with the fledging period-- sometimes they fall out of the nest too early, or they get injured or killed on their first few clumsy flights. Big hazards for urban eagles are motor vehicles and power lines. It's good that many people will be watching them during this period, as parents generally will not feed a downed chick if it is in cover, and a rehabilitator may need to be called to retrieve it.

Follow the above link for a spreadsheet that details the behavioral milestones for the Florida eagles, last season and right up to the present. It will be interesting to see if they adhere to a similar schedule.

There is a link to my main eagle watch page beneath my signature line.  I hope you don't mind, but I have copied our correspondence into the FORUM in this folder: "Eagle and Wildlife Events and News" in the thread "Déjà vu in Illinois."

Ken Schneider
Miramar, Florida & North Aurora, Illinois

Web site: http://www.rosyfinch.com
Local Eagle Nest: http://www.rosyfinch.com/BaldEagleNest.html
Sandia Crest Birding Forum: http://rosyfinch.com/Rosy-FinchFORUM.html
Blog: http://blog.rosyfinch.com
Photos: http://flickr.com/photos/rosyfinch 

"Openness to the natural world and our response to it lie at the core of what we do and why we do it." (Fr. Tom Pincelli)
"I am at peace with everything when I can feel, hear, smell and see the amazing wonders that nature can provide." (Ryan Beaulieu, 1987-2005)