Nothing's been simple for the bald eagle pair at the Norfolk Botanical Garden (NBG), right down to the fact that they don't nest at the Garden any more.
As one of the first bald eagle pairs to have their own webcam the NBG eagles were well watched and now loved by people around the world. Their nesting seasons have had many ups and spectacular downs, particularly in 2008 when they had a Peyton Place event, two nest failures, and their third try ended with an eaglet who caught avian pox. Buddy's beak was deformed so badly that he could never fly free.
Life was good again until their nest site became a problem in 2011. Norfolk Botanical Garden is on the edge of Lake Whitehurst and surrounded on two sides by Norfolk International Airport. Bald eagles and airplanes occasionally share space. This was fatal for the female eagle in late April when she landed on the runway and was killed by an airplane. Concern that the male could not feed the chicks without her help prompted their removal from the nest to a rehab location where they were raised until they fledged. It was a very bad year for the eagles.
Things got worse. The female's death underlined the dangers of the birds' proximity to air operations so in 2012 U.S Fish and Wildlife told the City of Norfolk that the eagles' nest had to go. The male had found a new mate, but every time they built a nest USDA removed it. Eagle lovers formed Eagle On Alliance and filed a lawsuit to protect the eagles from harassment. Ultimately USDA removed nine nests.
This year the NBG eagles took the hint and moved out of harms way to the other end of Lake Whitehurst. Their new nest is on private property, far enough to satisfy the FAA. They don't have a webcam but Eagle On Alliance obtained permission from the landowner to photograph and film the eagles.
The pair has hatched one or more chicks and is currently raising a family. Peek between the branches in Mike Inman's photo above and you'll see a hungry eaglet. This has been a much better year!
For more news, see the NBG eagles at Eagle On Alliance.
(photo courtesy of Mike Inman, inmansimages.com)
p.s. Eagle On Alliance dropped their lawsuit last January.
p.p.s Here's how close the Garden is to the airport