Eagle Population Thrives: Will County Forest Preserves Home to Four Active Nests

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For the first time, the Forest Preserve District of Will County has reported a total of four active eagle nests within its properties this winter, marking a significant increase from the previous years. 

Joel Craig, a member of the Will County Audubon Society and a volunteer for the Forest Preserve, revealed that this year’s addition is particularly noteworthy due to one of the nests being a new structure that replaced one lost last autumn. The newly established nest, notable for its impressive size of 8 feet in depth, is positioned across the river from a preserve area, eagerly anticipated to contribute to the local eagle population’s growth.

According to Craig, the incubation of eggs across these nests occurs at staggered intervals, suggesting that the hatchlings will emerge at different times. With an average incubation period of 35 days for eagle eggs, the monitoring for signs of new life is set to commence around March 23 for the earliest nest, followed shortly by observations of the others.

Becky Blankenship, the wildlife ecologist for the Forest Preserve, expressed enthusiasm over the eagles’ choice to nest within the preserve lands, highlighting the critical role these areas play in protecting vital waterways that serve as hunting grounds for the majestic birds. The presence of these nests underscores the success of habitat preservation efforts, with all nests under careful observation by both staff and dedicated volunteers. Data collected on these eagle families, including timelines of nest building, incubation, and hatchling counts, are forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, aiding in the broader monitoring of the species’ health and population trends.

Eagle nests, known for their remarkable dimensions and the considerable weight they can accumulate over years of use and expansion, are a testament to the bald eagle’s resilience and nesting habits. With one of the monitored nests boasting 11 eaglets since 2019, the conservation community remains hopeful for this season’s breeding success. The importance of minimizing human interference with these federally protected birds is emphasized, advocating for a respectful distance to ensure their continued prosperity in Will County’s forest preserves.

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