Bald Eagles Nesting

And just a stone’s throw from downtown Providence. A few years ago urban wildlife photographer Peter Green (Providence Raptors) got a tip that a pair of bald eagles was building a nest nearby, but he found it occupied by red-tailed hawks at the time. Then this March he trailed a bald eagle in flight back to the same area, checked the nest again, and there he discovered this nesting pair. Peter has since discovered that the eagles ousted the falcons. (Avian gentrification!)

After making arrangements with the human landowners, Peter was able to photograph the scene  from March through September resulting in this amazing new series — “Bald Eagles Nest Near Providence.” He will not disclose the location for obvious reasons except to say that the nest is in Providence County and only 10 minutes from where he lives downtown.

For the protection of the eagles, I waited until the adults and fledglings had all left the area to share these photos. If birds do not feel safe in their nest, they may abandon it along with any nestlings inside. Now it is November, the nesting season is completed, and the eagles are migrating south for the winter.

Further, Mr. Green urges anyone who has learned the location to keep zipping your lip. Here’s why from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,

Eagles mate for life, choosing the tops of large trees to build nests, which they typically use and enlarge each year. Nests may reach 10 feet across and weigh a half ton.

Yikes. So with luck this pair will return, and the nest will be getting more and more conspicuous. (This one looked to be in a white pine, not a tree famous for its sturdy branches. I guess they know what they’re doing.)

The nestlings first made their presence known when they poked their heads up at end of May. Growing quickly, by July the fledglings were so large there was no longer room for the parents to join them in the nest. By August the fledglings were venturing out. By October everybody was gone. Just go look at the pictures.

***The more you know: The wingspan of a bald eagle can reach 7.5 feet. They can dive at 100 mph. The bald eagle was removed from the list of endangered species in 2007 but they are still protected. In fact, eagle feathers and any part of an eagle are legally protected. The males and females have the same coloring; eagles don’t get the white cap until their fifth year.

There’s always something exhilarating about seeing these birds of prey flying around the city overhead; people stop and point, grab you by the elbow. Friends tell you about it later. That people now know whether they have seen a hawk or a falcon is due in large part to the work of Peter Green and we thank him for the use of this photograph. (I love the way the feet are tucked up like landing gear.)

Peter closed his email to me with “There’s a falcon on the Biltmore outside my window as I’m typing this.”

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