Oh baby! Five eaglets hatch in two Forest Preserve District of Will County nests

Five eaglets have hatched in two Forest Preserve District of Will County nests this spring, continuing a trend of rebounding eagle numbers in the region over the past decade.

Three eaglets were spotted on April 4 in one nest and two hatchlings were confirmed in a second nest on April 14. The eagle parents are busily feeding their fuzzy-headed chicks, which was caught on a Forest Preserve video that is posted at Facebook.com/WillCoForest and YouTube.com/WillCoForests.

Joel Craig, a volunteer eagle monitor for the Forest Preserve, said it’s exciting to see the hatchlings, especially the trio in one nest. This is the second time in three years that this nest has produced three eaglets.

“Seeing the next generation of bald eagles locally makes me extremely happy – and in a sense, relieved,” said Craig, who is a member of the Will County Audubon. “You never know how inclement weather might affect the nests from the time the eggs are laid through the first few weeks in the lives of the eaglets.”

Eagle nests are huge, generally measuring 4 feet to 5 feet wide and 2 feet to 4 feet deep. They are used year after year and require some maintenance prior to each nesting season. Eagles will usually keep building on the nest until it gets too big, and it collapses or the weight of it breaks the tree. Then they’ll find a new location and build another one.

The eagle baby boom shows that the species is finding Will County a hospitable place to nest, Craig added.

“The way resources are managed within the Forest Preserve District is having an overwhelmingly positive impact on the ecosystems in which these preserves exist,” he said. “This is not only good for the environment, but it’s also a very visible return on the investment of Will County taxpayers and the financial resources with which the Forest Preserve is entrusted.”

Craig said that an increasing number of immature bald eagles in the winter indicates the ones we’re seeing now are residents and not migrants. It’s also evidence that Will County has good, clean water and a healthy fish population to support them year-round.

“To see eagles rebound like they have in this area in the past 10 years has been pretty exciting,” Craig said. “To be threatened and endangered when I was a kid to what we’re seeing now, it’s really a population explosion in our area over the past few years.

Eagles and their nests are federally protected, and human interference could cause the birds to abandon the nest and their eggs. The National Audubon Society recommends being at least 330 feet away from a nest. That’s about the length of a football field. To protect these birds, the Forest Preserve never publicly disclose nesting locations. If you should come across a nest, be sure to keep your distance.

For more information on the Forest Preserve District of Will County, visit ReconnectWithNature.org.

Press release