Laura K. sent an e-mail with some photos (that were too large to go through to the whole list) about a Bald Eagle’s out Sawmill Creek Road that appeared to have a black buoy in it. Using her photos as a guide to where it was, I was able to get a picture with my telephoto lens that showed a bit more clearly a black ball in the nest. It is clearly quite large, and it seems quite unlikely that this was placed there by an eagle.
I do have a hypothesis, however. Work is beginning on a project to improve the road (and add a separated path). Trees have already been cut near the nest (see photo below) – presumably as part of this project. My guess is the ball was placed in the nest to keep eagles from using it this spring/summer. If this is correct (and I’m hoping someone who sees this can verify), I’m curious how they got the object in the nest – it’s fairly high above the road, so it seems like it would have required a crane or helicopter.
Thanks to Laura for sending in the question and photos to start with!
Update: The buoys were placed in the nest to keep eagles from trying to use the nest this summer while road construction is taking place. This is legal if permits are obtained from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The idea is the eagles will use an alternate nest, and hopefully have a better chance of success, but the nest shown here will be available for nesting again in subsequent years after the buoys are removed. Thanks to Jen C. for following up