2021 Bald Eagle Nesting Updates

As part of the Bald Eagle Nest Watch program, staff and volunteers have been monitoring an active bald eagle nest found within the 1000 Islands Conservancy Zone. Stay up to date with the highlights and important moments of the nesting season here.

In order to give the eaglets the best chance of survival, it is important to limit disturbance to the nest. The nest is difficult to find and see, and the specific nest location will not be released publicly in order to prevent disturbance to the nest site and property owners bordering the Conservancy Zone. The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (16 U.S.C. 668-668c) prohibits disturbance to the eagles or the nesting site, including coming within 300 feet of an active nest tree, and the use of drones to view a nest. 1000 Islands Conservancy Zone includes 350 acres of protected land with ongoing restoration and educational activities.

May 1, 2021 – How many adults??

The excitement continues at the 1000 Islands bald eagle nest. Our monitoring session on Saturday caught not one, not two, but THREE adults on the nest at the same time. Occurrences like this are uncommon, but not unheard of. There is a great article from Audubon that made the rounds a couple of years ago about a trio of adult eagles co-parenting in a single nest in Illinois.

For this particular nest we immediately start wondering if there are two females that perhaps shared in egg laying, adding up to four eaglets, or are their two males? We aren’t quite sure just yet, but we will continue to look for signs that will help us determine the sex of the adults. Unfortunately, male and female bald eagles look almost identical. Females tend to be a little larger, have a more robust beak and a more defined brow. All things that are difficult to determine while observing at a safe distance. Video that confirmed the trio of adults gives a first impression that the third eagle landing on the nest appears to be a little smaller than the other two. We will continue to observe and try to determine the make-up of this trio. No mater what, we are all more hopeful that three adults will be able to keep up with feeding four eaglets.

April 30, 2021 – Feeding Time

We finally lucked out and were able to watch a feeding session. Watch a video of it here. One of the adults returned to the nest with food for the eaglets. They all feasted for about 20 minutes. It great to see everyone still looking healthy. It is a big job to keep all four eaglets fed. Thankfully, there should be plenty of fish in the river to sustain them as long as the adults are successful hunters and scavengers. Gizzard shad are a favorite food source.

April 28, 2021 – Anxiously watching

With the excitement of four eaglets in the nest we are trying to increase the time spent monitoring. Staff got out to do two monitoring sessions today in hopes of getting a glimpse of all four eaglets as well as watching for feeding to see how well all four of them are eating. Our first monitoring session just missed what looked like the tail end of some feeding. No feeding observed in the second session either, but we were able to get some good video. There isn’t a point where you can clearly see all four heads at once, but if you watch carefully starting at about 1:14 you can see what looks to be 4 individual heads pop up for a moment. Hopefully one of our monitoring sessions will catch some feeding action to give us a better indication of how all of the eaglets are doing.

April 24, 2021 – Confirmed Quads

After another monitoring session and reviewing video of the nest, we have been able to confirm that there are four chicks in the nest! This is an extremely rare occurrence for bald eagles. To our knowledge, there have only been 3 other documented nests with 4 chicks in the United States. We will be watching closely to see how they do.

April 23, 2021 – View of Chicks

Two eaglets were visibly eating and active, but the 3rd eaglet was smaller and off to the side. One adult was spending more time feeding the first two eaglets, then the second adult came to the nest and the first adult flew to perch in a nearby tree. Exciting to see 3!

April 11, 2021 – Feeding

Two adult eagles in the area either in the nest tree or soaring overhead. Video shows the adults feeding into the nest. This is a great confirmation of hatching. No visual on the eaglets just yet.

April 2, 2021 – Brooding

Initially seemed that the adult on the nest was just incubating but she/he moved several times during the hour. At the end of my hour, the other adult came to the nest and both birds spent about 1 minute looking into the nest. No feeding evidence was seen but with all the movement in the nest I thought an egg may be hatching.

February 28, 2021 – Incubation

Incubation is noticed for the first time. Adult eagle is in the nest when monitoring session started and then second eagle flew in and took over incubation duties.

February 3, 2021 – Start of Monitoring Season

Many juveniles in the area. Spotted 2 adult eagles during the monitoring session, but they did not interact. One adult perched in the nest tree for a short time at the end of the monitoring session. No nesting or breeding activity noticed.

1000 Islands has had active nests located in and around the Conservancy Zone since 1988. Learn more about the history of our nesting eagles here.

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