Cone Will Be Removed so Bald Eagles Can Return to Nest

Urban Eagle Sightings

From the Record Searchlight On-line:

By Dylan Darling
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Persistence appears to have paid off for a pair of bald eagles who wanted to return to their downtown Redding nest despite a state agency’s efforts to clear them out of a coming construction zone.

The 3-foot black plastic cone that has been wired to their nest for a month could come off as early as today, said Brian Crane, district director for the state Department of Transportation, on Wednesday. He said the cone will come down as soon as weather permits, allowing the eagles to reclaim their nest.

“We were always expecting the eagles to take a hint and move on,” he said.

Crane announced the plans to remove the cone at the

Caltrans district office in Redding during an informal meeting among transportation officials, the state Department of Fish and Game regional manager and about a dozen people who wanted the agencies to rethink their strategy.

A group of people concerned about the eagles met earlier this week after passing messages to each other in the comments section of stories about the birds on and asked Caltrans for Wednesday’s meeting, said Terri Lhuillier, who served as the group’s leader.

The eagles have become mini-celebrities as they struggled to return to the nest they built in 2005, only to be rebuffed by the cone wired on top of it. Despite the cone, and the removal of the beginnings of a new nest about 10 feet away last week by a Caltrans contractor, the eagles have stayed close to the nest where they raised eaglets in 2006 and this year.

“They have been resistant to the cone,” Crane said.

Crane’s announcement that the cone was coming off was greeted by cheers.

“This says so much about you as an agency, as people,” Lhuillier said.

She said she saw the eagles near the nest Wednesday.

“They’ve been pretty patient,” Lhuillier said.

With the Dana to Downtown project set to start in the spring, state and federal officials had decided that trying to get the eagles to move was the best way to protect any eggs or eaglets they might have hatched, said Gary Stacey, DFG’s regional manager in Redding. The project will include work on the Highway 44-Sacramento River bridge as close as 100 feet from the nest.

He said officials were particularly concerned about the sight of cranes and the pounding of pile drivers causing the eagles to abandon their nest.

“Eagles don’t typically tolerate disturbances at their nest level or below their nest level,” Stacey said.

But he said the eagles have shown they want to stay despite the placement of the cone and the clearing of their nest sticks.

“We frankly thought they’d be gone by now,” he said.

Having displayed such persistence, the eagles might not mind the commotion of construction as much as wildlife officials had thought, Stacey said.

“We’ve got a pair of birds that are very tolerant,” he said.

With the eagles expected to promptly take up residence in the nest, Caltrans and DFG officials are looking into the possibility of installing a remote video camera to keep an eye on them, said Tom Balkow, senior environmental planner in Caltrans Redding office. Images from the camera would possibly be put onto the Internet via a Web site.

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