Bald Eagle Nest Facts
A bald eagle nest is the largest nest of any North American bird, and can be up to 13 feet deep, 8.2 feet wide, and up to 1 ton in weight. While not that large, the Boney Island nest on the east edge of Boney Island in the middle of the Rock River is a classic example of an eagle nest and here is why:
- Bald eagles like to have a clear view in all directions around their nests.
- The nest needs to be higher than the surrounding vegetation to provide both easy access and a clear view of possible threats to the nest.
- Nest sites typically include at least one perch with a clear view of the water, where they forage.
- The trees that are tall and strong enough to satisfy eagle nesting needs tend to be old and sometimes may be nearing the end of their life.
- Occasionally, the nest tree dies but stays strong for a time and the eagles will continue to use their nest, despite the death of the nest tree, often until the tree or nest falls down.
- When an eagle nest blows down, the eagle pair will usually build another nest nearby. Bald eagles are very territorial birds, and most breeding pairs return to the same nest site year after year. They may use the same nest annually for as many as 35 years.
Nest Construction Facts
- First year nests are usually smaller, and the nest size will increase each year as eagles re-use the nest and add sticks to it.
- Both sexes bring materials to the nest, but the female does most of the placement.
- They weave together sticks and fill in the cracks with softer material such as grass, moss, or cornstalks.
- They will pick up broken sticks from the ground, and sometimes break branches off trees.
- They take as many sticks as they can find close to the nest, but may lug some branches as far as a mile, carrying them in their talons.
The video below was captured in July 2012 of the Boney Island eagles when the nest blew down with two eaglets in it.