Bald Eagles Spring-Clean, Too

Before each new brood, some nest upkeep is necessary.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote!

That odd call that sounds like a rusty gate? We’re actually hearing a pair of Bald Eagles, and they’re getting ready to nest.

Bald Eagles build large stick nests in tall trees, which they use year after year. And these nests endure rough treatment.

Young eagles perch on the edge and flap their wings while holding on with their feet to avoid premature departure. This upward tugging can pull apart sections of the nest. The young birds may also yank at sticks with their beaks and chuck them over the side. Weather and wind take their toll, too.

So every year, the eagles have to rebuild their bulky nests. An eagle looking for material may fly at a dead branch that’s still attached to a tree. Coming in feet first, the bird hits the branch with its talons and, using its forward momentum, breaks off the limb. The eagle then carries the branch, often up to five feet long, back to the nest and wedges it in. And here’s something amazing: Bald Eagles have been known to carry sticks more than a mile to their nest.

BirdNote is also available as a podcast.  Find out more when you visit our website, BirdNote.org. I’m Michael Stein.



Calls of the Bald Eagles provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Adult eagles recorded by J. Storm; juveniles recorded by G.F. Budney. Ambient forest sounds provided by C. Peterson.

BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and produced by John Kessler.

Narrator: Michael Stein

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

Written by Frances Wood

2015 Tune In to Nature.org            March 2018

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