The first eaglet of 2008 has hatched in Huron County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
The agency's volunteer eagle watchers, who have been observing this nest (named the "Pontiac" nest) since incubation began in late January, reported at least one eaglet hatched on March 6. It will be several weeks before they can determine the total number of eaglets in the nest. This eagle pair also produced the state's first hatchling of 2007.
The eagle watchers were concerned about the young bird's survival during last weekend's snowstorm. But they observed feeding behavior by the adult birds earlier this week, indicating the hatchling had weathered the storm.
"As is their habit, the eagle pair took turns sheltering their nest during the blizzard," said Mark Shieldcastle, who oversees the Division of Wildlife's eagle restoration project. "It's remarkable that such a young hatchling could survive that kind of severe weather and a tribute to the parenting of the adult birds."
The incubation period for bald eagle eggs is 35 days. Young eagles fledge 72 to 75 days after hatching and leave their home nesting territory by the time they are 18 to 20 weeks old.
A record 180 active eagle territories have been identified in the state so far this year.
Thirty years ago, there were only four nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state, mostly along the Lake Erie shore. In 2007, 164 eagle pairs produced 194 young.
Ohio's bald eagle management program is partially funded by donations to the state income tax check-off fund for Wildlife Diversity & Endangered Species. Contributions to the fund can be made by checking line 28 (Form 1040) or line 20 (EZ Form) on the 2007 state income tax form. Donations can also be made via the Internet at wildohio.com. Click on the "Experience Wildlife" icon and then "Support Ohio's Wildlife" on the left side of the page.
The program is also funded by the sale of Ohio bald eagle license plates. The license plates can be purchased through a deputy registrar license outlet, online at OPLATES.com, or by calling the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles toll-free at (888) PLATES3.