SHELBY TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Two American bald eagles have been spotted at Holland Ponds Park in Shelby Township and it is believed they are readying for eaglets.
Local nature photographers recently spotted two American bald eagles and local officials believe, based on their activities and behaviors, that they are nesting and readying to rear juvenile eagles, also called eaglets.
“Wildlife photographer and bald eagle observer Joan Bonin reported that the eagles have been seen sitting low in the nest, appearing to roll egg(s) and change guard, a sign they are incubating eggs,” Elizabeth “Lizzy” Shultz said in a statement from the township.
Shultz is a naturalist and the Nature Center Coordinator for Shelby Township Parks, Recreation and Maintenance.
She says one-to-three eggs can be laid as early as January, and can take about five weeks to hatch.
“The chicks take flight at about 3 months old and look nothing like adults. Juveniles are solid brown with mottled white areas underneath their wings. They do not gain their iconic white head and tail until they are about 5 years old,” Shultz said.
Officials say if the rearing is successful, American bald eagles will remain monogamous to each other and come back to the same nest every year.
The nest, also known as an eyrie, starts at approximately 5 feet wide and, as the pair adds to it each year, it can get up to 9 feet wide, weighing as much as a car.
“It’s imperative that we all work together to protect our new eagles,” Schultz said. “This means following federal guidelines for viewing in a way that won’t disturb them. Visitors must stay more than 330 feet from the nest, and drones are prohibited within 1,000 feet of the nest.”
Shultz said that if eagles feel too stressed, it’s possible they could leave their nest and their young.
“Improper disposal of fishing lines and lead-based lures are also dangerous for wildlife, especially bald eagles who can get lead poisoning from the fish they eat or trapped in old fishing lines while hunting,” Shultz said.
Shultz and Bonin are planning to lead a free guided hike so that residents and visitors can safely view the eagles on Saturday, April 8, from 2 p.m.-3 p.m.
“Lizzy Schultz is an excellent naturalist, and I can’t think of better ambassadors to welcome American eagles to our township than her and parks and rec Director Joe Youngblood,” said Township Supervisor Rick Stathakis. “As a patriotic American, it is exciting to know we have a pair of bald eagles nesting in one of our parks. First, however, I urge everyone to follow Ms. Schultz’s guidelines to ensure the eagles have every opportunity to thrive and raise a family in our beautiful community.”
If you are interested in participating in the hike, you should meet at Holland Ponds at 50385 Ryan Road at 2 p.m. on April 8. The township says to dress appropriately for the weather and wear proper footwear.
Staff from the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center will have a limited supply of binoculars to share, so it is advised you bring them if you have them.
The park is open from dawn to dusk or 8 p.m., whichever comes first.
“This is truly a success story considering both the park location and the species involved,” Schultz said. “The area now known as Holland Ponds was deemed a superfund site by the EPA due to contamination by hazardous waste from the adjacent former G&H landfill company. Around this time, the bald eagle nearly went extinct because of human persecution and DDT poisoning. In 1961, Michigan had only 52 active bald eagle nests. All of that has changed thanks to federal, state, and local conservation and habitat restoration initiatives.”
Shultz says the park is now thriving with life. Beavers can be seen, great blue herons and of course, the American bald eagle.
Any questions about the eagles, or how to best to view them, can be directed to the Burgess-Shadbush Nature Center at 586-323-2478 during business hours, or by email at email@example.com.
For hours and location, visit their website by clicking here.
Happy bird watching!