Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bald Eagles return to Fontainbleau

From a Northshore newspaper:

image from Chuck Cook - Times Picayune


For the first time since Katrina, the bald eagles have returned to Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville.


Not exactly a common sight, these living symbols of America's spirit of freedom were first spotted at Fontainebleau about a year ago.

"In fact, a visitor to the park saw an eagle getting fish from the lake," said Rita McMurray, an interpretive ranger at the park. "We had to find the nest."

Bald eagles like habitats near seacoasts, rivers and large lakes, which makes Fontainebleau, with a setting on Lake Pontchartrain, ideal.

They feed mostly on fish, but also eat small rabbits and squirrels, McMurray said.

Eagles are extremely sensitive to human activity and like to keep a safe distance from people.

With his powerful scope set up on a steady tripod, ranger Steven Welch focused it on the uppermost limbs of the tree and pointed out the white head of the female, which sat on her eggs -- probably two, he said. They're the same pair who were at Fontainebleau a year ago

"They're pretty smart," Welch said, as he explained the location of their nest in the park. "It's about 150 feet from the water and a good distance from the campgrounds on one side, and from the day use area on the other side."

The eagles will probably leave the area in the summer and return again next winter. In the meantime, the best time of day to spot them may be the warmest part, McMurray said. You might just catch sight of one of the great birds sitting royally on a tall branch in the distance, head turned to the side, keeping watch.

Here's a two minute video about the birds courtesy of the Times Picayune:


Video: Bald eagles return to Fontainebleau

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