Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Bald eagles return to nest in Cuyahoga Valley

February 19, 2010, 11:50 am

Two bald eagles have returned to a nest in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

That led the National Park Service today to restrict access to the area near the nest along the Cuyahoga River north of state Route 82 in Cleveland Metroparks' Brecksville Reservation.

The nest, on the west side of the river, sits near the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad track and across the river from the popular Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the northern part of the 33,000-acre federal park between Akron and Cleveland.

The railroad will continue to operate as scheduled. The trains have not bothered the eagles in the three previous years of nesting, spokeswoman Mary Pat Doorley said.

The hike-and-bike trail will remain open, but trail users are directed not to stop and gawk at the nesting site and to keep moving, she said.

The Cuyahoga Valley eagles raised eaglets at the site in what's called the Pinery Narrows area in 2007 and 2008, but the nest failed in 2009.

It was one of a record 215 bald eagle nests in Ohio last year. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimated that at least 197 eaglets were hatched last year from 113 nests in 52 counties. There is no official total.

Locally, there were successful nests last year at Chippewa Lake in Medina County, at Walborn Reservoir in northern Stark County and near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cuyahoga County.

Nests failed last year in Nimisila Reservoir in Green, Tinkers Creek in Aurora, Wingfoot Lake in Suffield Township and Killbuck Marsh in southwest Wayne County. The state had no information on three nests in Portage County.

Eagle nesting activity in Ohio is already under way.

An eagle pair in Huron County began sitting on eggs Feb. 1. Another pair in Ashtabula County began incubation Feb. 5. Wildlife biologists anticipate the Huron County eggs will hatch on or around March 7.

Bald eagles range over great distances until mature enough to breed at 3 to 4 years of age. They usually return to nest within 100 miles of where they were raised.

The birds build huge nests in the tops of tall trees near water, often reusing the nest year after year. Eagles lay two or three eggs that hatch in about 35 days.

The young will fly within three months but remain under the care of the adults for another seven to 10 weeks.

Bald eagles do not acquire their signature white head and tail feathers until age 5 or 6.

Ohio had only four eagle nests on Lake Erie in 1979 because of pesticides and loss of habitat. After its remarkable comeback, the bald eagle was removed from the federal endangered species list four years ago.