CLARK COUNTY – They were caught on camera.
Over the past few weeks, residents of southern Indiana have taken photos of two bald eagles in the Clark Regional Airport area.
Airport manager John Secor said when he first heard about the birds at the Sellersburg facility, he thought they were something else.
“I just brushed it off, thought it was probably our resident owl or resident hawk,” he said.
The eagles were first spotted a few weeks ago when the airport was activating its snowplows. Later, Secor said he was driving by when he saw his neighbor, Jerry Copas, parked at the airport, taking photos.
“Jerry saw them, so that made me a believer,” he said.
Since then, Secor has spotted the birds along US 31 in the area near Silver Creek. Huge nests have also been spotted from the airport, which he says are easy to see now that the leaves are off the trees.
“We saw them and we’re sure they found a fairly safe and natural type of habitat,” he said.
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the bald eagle has been removed from the state’s endangered species list and the recovery effort is one of the state’s greatest conservation successes.
The bird’s populations declined in the 1900s, due to things like hunting and pesticides.
In the late 1980s, the state introduced eaglets to restore breeding, and the first successful nesting occurred in 1991.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources statistics show there has been at least one nest in most Indiana counties over the past decade and chick production has increased 11% from 2019 and 2020.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources ornithologist Allisyn Gillet said people will notice eagles’ nests more in winter because many birds travel to southern Indiana to avoid the harsh winters of the North.
“Bald eagles are mating and nesting from now on,” she said. “It’s a big bird so they have a much longer nesting period, they need a lot of time for their chicks to grow to support them.”
Gillet said nest building usually begins in December, and in February the birds tend to nest and incubate their eggs. The eggs hatch in March.
Typically, eagles live for about two decades, and nests are protected by federal law.
“It protects nests and eagles from harassment and also prevents people from owning eagle parts or parts of their nests,” she said.
The law also states that people must stay 100 meters from nests.
At present, the IDNR estimates that around 300 to 350 pairs of eagles are in the state.
Secor said that although the birds hang around near the airport, they are nowhere near planes.
“People are worried about eagles and planes mixing together,” he said. “These things are far away. Airports have wildlife mitigation strategies. One such strategy is to prune trees, cutting them away from an overhead site. »