Bald Eagle Nest Etiquette

Photo: Hal Korber

There are few sights more thrilling than a bald eagle at its nest or in action along a shoreline. Responsibilities come with this enjoyment. As you enjoy eagles, you must ensure your presence and behavior do not have a detrimental effect on the eagles or their future use of the area.

Eagle nests and young eagles are easily disturbed. By causing a premature fledging, you can inadvertently cause injury or death of an eaglet that can not yet fly or defend itself. In the cold winter, energy is a very valuable commodity for eagles. Flushing eagles from a roost site or a feeding ground causes unnecessary stress and may expose the eagle to additional predators.

So please keep your distance from eagle nests and roosts. Respect their space. Enjoy their presence at a distance with good optics. Please consider the following general etiquette guidelines for avoiding eagle disturbances:

Stay Back- Keep at least 1,000 feet from an active nest, roost, or feeding area. Use optics like binoculars or a telescope to view the eagles at a distance.

Remain Quiet- If you must talk, whisper.

Cover Up- Use your vehicle or boat as a blind; eagles often are more alarmed by pedestrians.

Avoid Sudden Movements – Do not move quickly or toward the eagles or the nest while on foot or in a vehicle or boat.

Do Not Try to Make the Birds Fly-Flushing an eagle off a nest may expose the eggs or young eaglets to cold or wet weather or a nest predator. It also wastes precious energy and may cause them to leave a valuable meal behind or abandon a nest that they are constructing.

Pay attention-Watch how the eagle reacts to your presence – if it acts agitated, vocalizes repeatedly, or starts moving away, you are too close.

Stay out-Respect restricted zones. They protect eagle nesting areas. And you are breaking state and federal laws if you enter them.

Respect the Privacy of the Landowner-Do not tell everyone about a new eagle nest. It will attract people to nesting areas who may not use proper etiquette and bring other unnecessary attention to a nest. If you unexpectedly stumble onto an eagle nest, or hear an eagle vocalizing overhead, leave immediately and quietly.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation.

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