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Bald eagle reproduction in Ohio shows continued success

From the Ohio Department of Natural Resources
-- Reflecting national trends, Ohio's bald eagle population continues to grow in numbers and expand in territory. Biologists with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife counted a record 215 nests in the state this year, the twenty-second consecutive year that the state's breeding bald eagle population has increased.
Of those 215 nests, 113 were known to be successful in producing young eagles. Current reports from wildlife biologists and volunteer observers have estimated a minimum of 197 total young eagles produced in nests in 52 Ohio counties.
"As Ohio's bald eagle population continues to grow, we can expect more sightings and viewing opportunities throughout the state," said Andrea Tibbels, bald eagle project coordinator with the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
Last year, Ohio had 184 nests, with 119 of the nests producing an estimated 222 eaglets; a determination of the number of eaglets in 16 nests could not be made. This year, 33 new nests have been identified.
In the third year since being removed from the federal Endangered Species List, bald eagles have made a dramatic comeback. Since 1979, when only four bald eagle pairs were found in the state, the Division of Wildlife has helped reestablish Ohio's eagle population through habitat development and protection, fostering of young eagles  and extensive observation of eagle nesting behavior.
Most eagle nests in Ohio are located along the shores of Lake Erie, but now some are well inland, including nests in Delaware, Hancock, Mercer and Wyandot counties. Counties with new nests in 2009 were Butler, Franklin, Hamilton, Logan, Medina, Montgomery, Paulding, Pike and Scioto. A majority of the nests occur on private land.
An average eagle nest ranges from 3 to 5 feet in width and 3 to 6 feet in depth. The nests are usually built high in tall trees. Both male and female eagles share in the incubation and feeding of the young, which begin to leave the nest at about 12 weeks of age. An adult bald eagle has snow-white head and tail feathers. Its body color is very dark brown, almost black. Yellow eyes, beak and feet accent the bird's appearance. Young eagles do not achieve this appearance until the age of 5 or 6 years. Until that time, they are uniformly dark brown from head to tail feather. Their undersides are mottled white with buff and cream blotches.
The Division of Wildlife's work with bald eagles is funded through the sale of bald eagle license plates.
Funding is  also provided, in part, through the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service State Wildlife Grants Program, which benefits species of greatest conservation need. Additional funding for bald eagle restoration is derived from contributions to the Wildlife Diversity and Endangered Species Fund through a check-off on the Ohio State Income Tax Report Form.

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