Eagles find inviting atmosphere in Ohio
Plus, Piping Plovers and more on mega events
Consider this post a palate cleanser after the Chicago-Rockford International Airport went ahead with bulldozing an airport road Thursday through Bell Bowl Prairie, an 8,000-year-old gravel prairie that’s home to several endangered species.
News recently came across that Stars and Stripes, the Bald Eagles that have nested near Redwood Elementary School in Avon Lake, Ohio, since 2015, have now laid three eggs this season. The eagles have been respected since they arrived, even welcomed, and have provided schoolchildren an opportunity to learn from the unusual nest site.
When the big raptors arrived, the school and its leaders reacted with the appropriate level of surprise and awe.
“This is very rare, it just doesn’t happen,” [Principal T.J. Ebert] spoke with a tone of amazement.
The school initially installed a temporary fence to protect the eagles from the public but also for the students’ safety from sticks falling from the birds’ nest:
Redwood is less than a mile from Lake Erie and very near to pockets of woodlands and smaller water sources, which provide potentially ideal habitat for these carnivorous creatures who favor fish.
Redwood was so respectful to the eagles, that the school eventually moved the playground to provide the birds more space.
Ohio led the way among Midwestern states in restoring Bald Eagle populations. The Buckeye State was the first to host Bald Eagles nesting on a Great Lake (Erie) in modern times. Efforts led by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources included nest monitoring and captive rearing. It’s not a stretch to say that the successful comeback of the Bald Eagle in Illinois—now nesting in all 102 counties—can be attributed to Ohio. After all, the eagles have followed waterways all throughout the Midwest as they’ve reclaimed their former range.
Click here to check out the Avon Lake Bald Eagle Web Cam and see how Stars and Stripes fare this year. The couple has helped replenish the eagle population by hatching a dozen eaglets since 2015.
Sightings stir hope for Piping Plover season
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Great Lakes Piping Plover breeding season again. The dapper shorebirds have already returned in places like New Jersey, and they should be back in our region sometime in April. The Facebook page for the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort has had some fun posts lately. You might remember Mia Majetschak, the Chicagoan-turned-Florida resident who kept tabs on our beloved Rose last winter. Mia recently spotted five plovers on Anclote Key, Fla., including birds from Michigan, New York, and Ontario. One bird, though, garnered extra attention from the Great Lakes folks:
And last but not least, one that my heart definitely throbs for, is the 1-year-old Silver Lake State Park, MI hatch O,G:X,- (Ydot, G403), the only fledgling that survived Silver Lake in 2022, who happens to be a half-sibling to the famous “Monty” of Chicago.
As the post notes, the winter sightings underscore the success of the banding effort that takes place across the Great Lakes each breeding season. The leg bands ensure that we can learn more about individual birds and their life histories.
More to come soon, including an in-depth preview of this year’s Great Lakes Piping Plover breeding season.
Plan for summer mega events gets foggier
I’ve been tracking the status of large festivals in Chicago parks since the announcement of a NASCAR race that will take place in Grant Park this July. Last week came the news that the park will be closed to Chicagoans for 83 days and that the popular Taste of Chicago will be moved from the site. I’ve mentioned the NASCAR race to multiple Chicagoans, young and old, in a variety of settings and the overwhelming response has been an audible groan. Making matters worse is that the city is bringing in only $500,000 from NASCAR to play host to the race. The revenue will be negligible for city coffers. One of my sources tells me there’s a chance the race never actually will take place once a new mayor is in office.
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That would be amazing if the race never happens. If the new mayor wants my vote in 2027, it'd be a great way to start!