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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 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 3½ 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, 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.

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Fans Would Keep an Eagle's Eye on Nest Camera

Urban Eagle Sightings


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.

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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.

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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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Eagles Evicted--Then Invited Back for Supper

Wildlife News

From the Record Searchlight On-line


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our view: If the eagles ignore Caltrans’ prodding and stick around the Highway 44 bridge project, they will be elaborately coddled.
Persistence is an all-American virtue, so it's fitting that bald eagles, the symbol of our nation, would stubbornly cling to their nesting sites. No pesky bureaucrats will push them out of their tree, bridge replacement or no.

But even as Caltrans wins widespread scorn for its efforts to shoo away a pair of eagles near Highway 44 in Redding, the eagle-management plan drawn up by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so thoroughly coddles the birds that they'd be fools to leave.

If the birds don't take the hint and fly the coop, Caltrans must specially shield and angle its lights during night construction to avoid spoiling their sleep.

Bridge crews must halt work if any "disturbance is observed." (What do you call the past few weeks' follies?)


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