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Local

Eagles’ nest gets encouraging news

Dawn Keller of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation cradles a baby eaglet on the campus of Mooseheart Academy Tuesday. Keller, along with Mooseheart, Flint Creek and employees of The Care Of Trees helped build a new nest to replace the eagles' original nest, which was blown out of its home during Sunday's storm.
Dawn Keller of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation cradles a baby eaglet on the campus of Mooseheart Academy Tuesday. Keller, along with Mooseheart, Flint Creek and employees of The Care Of Trees helped build a new nest to replace the eagles' original nest, which was blown out of its home during Sunday's storm.

Two eaglets appeared to be settling into their new man-made nest Wednesday at Mooseheart, an encouraging sign for those who have been following the drama since an eagle family’s nest was damaged in Sunday’s storms.

On Monday, a local photographer and eagle enthusiast noted that the bald eagles’ nest at Mooseheart Academy had been damaged and the eaglets fell 80 feet from the nest to the ground. On Tuesday, workers from Barrington-based Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation worked with personnel from The Care of Trees in Naperville to buld a new nest.

Wednesday’s step was key. The question: Would the baby eagles’ parents feel comfortable with the manmade nest? The initial results appear to be promising.

Darryl Mellema, Mooseheart’s spokesman, said he observed both eagle parents sitting near the nest.

“They are nearby,” Mellema said. “I saw one eaglet poking its beak out of the nest. ... It’s good to see [the parents] both back. I’m not an animal expert, but it would appear that things have gone as well as the animal experts have hoped.”

That was good news for two members of Kane County Audubon. Jerry Hope, the organization’s historian, said he was “very pleased and surprised” to hear things were going so well.

“I really thought that once people started going up there and doing things, that they would probably take off,” said Hope, who also the co-author of a book called “Bald Eagles 101.”

Tim Balassie, the vice president of Kane County Audubon, said everything so far had been “very encouraging.”

The scene was put into motion by St. Charles resident Scott Seifrid, a photographer and an eagle enthusiast. Seifrid said he likes to photograph the eagles when the lighting is right, and conditions were good Monday. Seifrid said when he showed up Monday, one of the adult eagles was nearby with a large fish, but Seifrid said he could not see the eaglets.

“I was in shock,” Seifrid said. “What had happened was that I saw the parent in the tree with a huge fish. I started thinking, ‘Where are the babies?’ Then I realized, ‘Where is the nest?’ ”

Seifrid said he looked away from his camera lens and “my biggest fear was true. The eaglets weren’t in the nest. There wasn’t a nest left. And that meant that the eaglets were probably on the ground.”

Seifrid called the Kane County Audubon officials. They put in a call to Flint Creek, and officials there began to work to create the nest.

Balassie noted that it’s not particularly unusual for such things to happen. Eagles’ nests can be blown out of trees, and Hope said that the tree chosen by the eagles was not particularly sturdy.

“But eagles in that area are unusual, Balassie said. “You can probably count on one hand the number of nesting pairs we have, south of the Wisconsin border,” he said.

Mellema said the eagles are popular.

“There are a lot of people in Kane County who have been keeping an eye on the nest,” Mellema said.

Balassie agreed.

“If you talk to people who do a lot of birding and who make annual sojourns to the Mississippi River, the bird in and of itself is not unique,” Balassie said, adding that in some parts of Iowa, one can see hundreds of eagles sitting in trees.

“But for the general public, these animals are just captivating. These are beautiful animals to look at, and they are our nation’s symbol.”

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