The Holly Hill eagle nest before being blown sideways overnight Tuesday. Photo | Kitty Albee
HOLLY HILL -- High winds left a family of bald eagles homeless Tuesday night when their nest in a large pine tree slipped sideways.
"I am really concerned about them," said Steve Petruniak, a member of the Halifax River Audubon Society. Petruniak watched the nest daily this winter as a pair of adult eagles successfully hatched two chicks in the nest at Centennial Park.
However, a bald eagle expert said Wednesday that because Petruniak saw the eaglets fly for the first time last Saturday the young birds will probably survive just fine.
"If these birds are flying, they don't need the nest anymore," said Lynda White, Eagle Watch coordinator for the Audubon of Florida Birds of Prey Center in Maitland. "As long as they're old enough to sit in a tree and be fed, that would be OK.
"They'll definitely come back to the tree for four to six weeks," White said, adding that young eagles often have difficulty learning to hunt and fish and need help from their mom and dad. "More often than not when they're youngsters, the parents will continue to bring food to them."
All four eagles and the nest were fine Tuesday, said Petruniak, who works just a few blocks away. But wind gusts overnight reached up to 25 mph in Daytona Beach, according to the National Weather Service.
Petruniak noticed the nest looked unusual Wednesday morning. When he returned Wednesday evening, he saw both the adults moving between their dangling nest and a nearby dead tree where they often sit to watch the nest.
Petruniak said the eagles fledged two chicks from the nest last year.
Bald eagle populations soared nationwide in recent decades and the birds were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. They are still safeguarded under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
In 2009, more than 1,300 eagle nests were documented in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. That included 60 nests in Volusia County and five in Flagler County.