Nesting Eagle Pair - Questions & Answers

Why is a section of the Chippewa trail closed?

Negwegon is a wild beautiful place and is lucky to have a nesting pair of eagles! This closure is in effect when the adults and young are most sensitive to human disturbance.


Do all eagles react negatively to human presence?
No, if an eagle pair nests in an area that has an established pattern of human activity around it at all times of the year, the eagles may not react negatively to humans.

Why can’t I walk by this particular nest on the trail?
Not all eagles react negatively to human presence, but this particular pair of eagles is VERY sensitive to human contact. Even simply walking quietly on the trail causes the eagles to show distress behavior. We observed this pair becoming very distressed and alarmed when there was any human contact—even far away from the nest.

 

What does this eagle pair do when humans walk the trail?
These two eagles go into high threat alert behavior. They both fly from the nest, make loud noises, and use diving flight patterns to scare and drive you away from their nest.

 

How does walking by the nest harm eggs or young?
Nesting eagles prefer not to leave their eggs or hatchlings unprotected. One eagle stays on the nest to keep the eggs warm because any amount of time in cold and even mild temperatures threatens to kill the undeveloped eggs or the hatchlings or leave them vulnerable to nest predators.  Only when the pair feels really threatened, do they both fly from the nest.

 

What if I just sneak up and very quietly try to get a peek at the nest?
Humans cannot sneak up on nesting Bald Eagles. They will see you. The common phrase “eagle eye” recognizes their highly developed vision. Although a Bald Eagle's eyes are roughly the size of human eyes, they have a 270° range, and can spot a rabbit 2-3 miles away!


Why is the trail closed for such a long period of time? January to July?
The bigger the bird the longer the reproductive process takes. The Bald Eagle is a large bird that has a long incubation period from January to July. That reproductive process includes nest-building, egg-laying, to the fledging in July. During that time one eagle needs to be, at all times, on the eggs or on the new hatchlings to keep them warm and safe.

Educational Material compiled by
Friends of Negwegon State Park
Educational resources:

National Bald Eagle Management Guidelines, USFW

National Eagle Center, Wabasha, MN
www.nationaleaglecenter.org/about/