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All About Nests

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In The Bald Eagle, Gerrard and Bortolotti, it states, "As a species, the Bald Eagle appears to be an adaptable bird, even nesting on a giant cactus in Baja, California, a bare rock in the middle of a Saskatchewan river rapids, and a hayloft of a barn on the Niagara River."  It further states that BE's are "highly selective as to where they place their nests".  They generally build in dominant trees: big red and white pines in Minnesota, pines and cypresses in Florida and Douglas-firs, Sitka spruces, and cottonwoods in Alaska.

The actual tree has distinct qualities. "The Bald Eagle prefers a more secure site in the crotch of a tree sheltered from the elements.  An eagle's nest tree is usually alive but often has a broken, deformed, or a dead top.  Nest trees, regardless of their species, are stout for their height and large crowns."  It also says they will have a spacious canopy which is advantageous for the adults during takeoffs and landings.  The large crown provides a secure site in which to build a large nest.

Hey Bob - this part is for YOU.  (Keep in mind this book is copyrighted in 1988).  "Only a few Bald Eagles have nested on man-made nest structures. Sergej Postupalsky has witnessed some nesting attempts on platforms in Michigan.  Eagles have accepted a large tripod erected by Teryl Grubb in Arizona to serve as a substitute for a nest that blew down.  Similarly, eagles have used makeshift wooden pallet platforms to replace fallen nests."  This is like the Sutton nest in Stillwater, OK.  Here's a pic.

The book does go on to say that it is common to find 2 or more nests within the territory of a single pair of eagles.  The last thing I want to add from the book interestingly is this statement: "Usually the active and alternate nests are within a few hundred yards of each other".  Sound familiar?  ;D           

glog there is a photo in RRP's blog of a mated BE pair that "own" 2 nests in one tree in MN

That's right, jf.  Thanks for reminding us of that!  How interesting is that, huh?

Bald eagles have to be among the most fascinating of creatures - multiple nests (some in the same tree), artificial nests, shared territories, - it goes on and on.  You just got to love 'em! 

In thinking about N2, I recall Mark Stalmaster's breakdown of BE nest sizes and shapes.  He states that BE nests can take on a cylinder shape, a bowl shape, a disk or an upsidedown cone shape. 

Cylindrical nests usually are constructed between 2  upright branches that are paralel to each other.  Bowl nests are "cradled" by supporting branchesas well as the tree trunk itself.  Disk shaped nests are placed close to the trunk and placed above several branches mainly in one of a variety of pinelike trees.  Conical nests develop where the configuration of the tree branches allow the nest to be smaller on the bottom and becomes larger as it reaches the top. 

Here are some photos of N2 in the making.


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