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Birds Back in Nest after Controversial Relocation Effort

Urban Eagle Sightings

From the Record Searchlight On-line:

Reporter Dylan Darling
Published on December 28, 2007

Back in their nest, the Turtle Bay bald eagles won’t be seen on the Internet.

“We feel the risk of installing the nest cam is too high,” said Craig Martz, an environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Game.

Although the eagles have shown they’re tolerant and persistent — not minding that their nest is close to the rumble of highway traffic and whirl of hospital helicopters, and determined to stay put despite a plastic cone that was placed over their nest — Martz said officials decided they don’t want to disturb them any more.

The eagles were spotted back home Thursday morning less than a week after the plastic cone was removed by workers on contract with the state Department of Transportation. One of the eagles was in the nest and the other perched on a branch nearby.

The state Department of Transportation had put the cone in the nest late last month in an effort to get the eagles to move away from what will become a construction site in late April. After public outcry and a reluctance by the eagles — which first nested in the cottonwood in 2005 — to leave, the cone came down last Friday.

In the days since, the eagles were seen close to the nest, but not in it until Wednesday.

“I’m glad they are back,” said Tom Balkow, senior environmental planner in Caltrans’ Redding office.

Living across Highway 44 from the nest, Richard Downs said he keeps a close eye on the eagles. He said he first saw them back in the nest Wednesday.

“They are hanging out around that area,” he said.

Like many who curiously followed the eagles and the effort to remove the cone, Downs said he’d hoped that a camera would be put into the nest so scientists — and the public — could see how they would do raising any eaglets this year. The pair successfully raised a single eaglet both in 2006 and last summer.

But a Web camera will have to wait until next year, Martz said.

The window that Caltrans had to install a camera lasted about a week and the logistics of getting a camera that could remotely provide a quality image proved to be challenging, he said.

To put the camera near the nest, contract workers would again have to climb into the cottonwood, Martz said. With workers already in the tree three times over the past month — putting in the cone, removing nest sticks and taking down the cone — the eagles already have put up with a fair amount of disturbance.

Martz said officials don’t want to push it. Balkow agreed.

“The last thing we want to do is chase them away for a camera that may not be that useful this year,” he said.

Martz said any eaglets that would hatch in early to mid-March would be big enough to monitor from the ground by time that construction starts. Work on the Dana to Downtown project, which will include rebuilding the Highway 44 Sacramento River Bridge with pile drivers and cranes, will come about 100 feet from the tree holding the eagle nest.

With all the attention paid to the eagles over the past month, Martz and Balkow said people must think of their safety and the animals’s welfare if they try to see them for themselves. Both said people should not walk along Highway 44 trying to get a glimpse of the birds because of the traffic danger.

They said the best way to view the eagles without disturbing them is by hiking along a trail leading from an access road off Auditorium Drive and peering at them through binoculars.

“We want to keep people away from the tree,” Balkow said.

Reference Link: http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/28/eagles-have-landed/

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Eagles Return to Their Nest

Urban Eagle Sightings

By Record Searchlight staff
Originally published 10:17 a.m., December 27, 2007
Updated 10:17 a.m., December 27, 2007

The state Department of Transportation had wired the cone to the nest late last month in an effort to persuade the eagles to move. It was feared that planned construction on the Highway 44 bridge across the Sacramento River would cause the eagles to abandon the nest and their eggs in the spring. After public outcry and the eagles’ reluctance to give up the nest that they built in 2005, the huge black cone was removed Friday.

In the days since, the eagles had been seen close to the nest, but not in it.

“I’m glad they are back,” Tom Balkow, senior environmental planner in Caltrans’ Redding office, said this morning.

Reference Link: http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/27/eagles-return-their-nest/

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Caltrans to begin Dana to Downtown without Moving Eagles

Urban Eagle Sightings

From the Record Searchlight On-line:

By Dylan Darling
Saturday, December 22, 2007

A bald eagle nest in downtown Redding is returning to nature.

Gone is the 3-foot black plastic cone that workers on contract with the state Department of Transportation had chained onto the nest late last month in an effort to convince a pair of eagles to find new digs away from what will be a construction site starting next spring.

“Now we just have to wait for the birds to come back,” said Craig Martz, environmental scientist with the state Department of Fish and Game.

One of the eagles was spotted in a tree across a pond from the nest on Thursday, but as of sundown Friday, it was unclear whether the pair had taken up residence again.

When the cone came down after 35 days in the cottonwood, champagne glasses were hoisted by members of an ad hoc group created to oppose the cone barricade. A half-dozen of the 15-member group watched the cone’s removal Friday morning.

“A toast to the power of the people, babe,” said Terri Lhuillier, leader of the unnamed group just after the champagne cork was popped.

The group met by passing messages to each other in the comments section below stories about the eagles on Redding.com. They met for pizza and planning Monday, which led to a meeting with Caltrans and DFG officials Wednesday at Caltrans’ Redding office.

At the meeting, Brian Crane, Caltrans district manager, announced the cone would come down. He said the birds showed they were locked into the area as a nesting site and the hope is they won’t give it up even when cranes and pile drivers move into the neighborhood.

With an already shortened calendar for construction because of salmon spawning in the river, the Dana to Downtown project could have been constricted to three months if the eagles weren’t moved, Crane said. The change would have stretched the project over six years instead of three and added $25 million to the already $66 million project.

Workers also pulled down sticks the eagles used to start a new nest 10 feet from the old. The workers also built a nest 3˝ miles downstream in hopes of enticing the eagles to move. They didn’t budge.

Now the plan is to go on with the construction even with the eagles in place, Crane said. The nest is close to Highway 44, the flight path for hospital helicopters and other commotion downtown.

“They’ve shown they don’t mind that kind of noise,” Crane said Wednesday.

Darla Tilley-James, who posts as “Prancer” on Redding.com, said seeing the cone removed showed that Caltrans has compassion.

“Now we know that Caltrans (officials) are humans and they like animals, too,” she said.

Under the guidance of DFG, Caltrans is working on ways to monitor the eagles and the impact of the construction, said Phil Baker, project manager for Caltrans. Central to the plans is a video camera.

“We are going to put up a camera above the nest,” he said.

Baker said the camera will be installed in January at the earliest.

Martz said officials hope the eagles can handle the construction and keep their nest near Turtle Bay once the project is done. The nest was built in 2005 and the eagles raised eaglets there in 2006 and this year.

“It’s not every community that has a pair of eagles nesting downtown — it’s a special thing,” Martz said.

Reference Link:
http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/22/caltrans-begin-dana-downtown-without-moving-eagles/

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Fans Would Keep an Eagle's Eye on Nest Camera

Urban Eagle Sightings

Editorial

published on December 21, 2007

From Record Searchlight On-line:

Why do we imagine that Redding's famous eagles, having nearly fomented a public insurrection, will now decide that there's entirely too much fuss around their old nest and find a quieter perch for the season?

Given Caltrans' recent luck in wildlife management, it would be no surprise.

No amount of good intention could overcome the rotten image of crews tearing down a bald-eagle nest, and the agency was smart to change its approach to handling the protected birds near the upcoming Highway 44 bridge replacement.

Now, Caltrans will let the birds make up their own minds, and the nest will lose its cone and be monitored by video.

Caltrans is even considering an online eagle-cam, so the birds' many devotees could check up on their well-being through their computers.

That's the best idea yet in this whole saga.

The fear all along was that construction commotion would push the adults to abandon their eaglets, but some member of the eagles' intense fan club would have an eye on the nest nearly 24/7. If the babies were left behind, a rescue would be dispatched faster than you can say national mascot.

Reference Link: http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/21/fans-would-keep/

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Eagles Clear For Landing

Urban Eagle Sightings

By Record Searchlight staff
Originally published 11:00 a.m., December 21, 2007
Updated 11:01 a.m., December 21, 2007

Workers on contract with the state Department of Transportation this morning took down a 3-foot black plastic cone that for 35 days blocked a pair of bald eagles from their nest in downtown Redding.

The cone was wired to the nest on Nov. 16 in an attempt to get the eagles to move to another nest because their old one will be 100 feet away from construction on the Highway 44 Sacramento River bridge slated to start this spring.

The eagles didn’t take the hint to move from the area — even after workers pulled down sticks the birds placed in an effort to build a new nest about ten feet from the old one. Caltrans began getting calls from the public asking that the cone be removed and agency officials decided Wednesday to do so.

Gathering to watch the cone come down, people who had opposed it popped a bottle of Champagne once it was removed.

“A toast to the power of the people, babe,” said Terri Lhuillier, who helped lead the effort to remove the cone.

Reference Link: http://www.redding.com/news/2007/dec/21/eagles-clear-landing/

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