Monday, April 29, 2013

Excerpt from The Raptors of Iowa

The species' recovery that blows the door off all other raptor recoveries is the bald eagle. No bald eagle nests were known in this state from 1906 through 1976. In 2012 there appear to be more than three hundred active nesting territories within, at least, ninety-three of Iowa's ninety-nine counties. To put this species' recovery in perspective, Iowa now holds two-thirds as many eagle nests as existed in the entire lower forty-eight states in 1963. While outlawing use of DDT in this country in 1973 was a major coup for this species, so were other federal laws, like the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. But even with these protective laws, I suspect no one could have predicted the huge population recovery that this species has shown. Iowa's recovery goal was to have ten active nests by the year 2000; there were at least one hundred nests that year!

Certainly there were widespread efforts in the 1980s and 1990s to assure that every active Iowa eagle nest was protected and watched over, but it was particularly encouraging to discover that this species was apparently adapting to living in close proximity to humans. Numerous eagle nest trees in Iowa are located within fifty yards of people's homes or outbuildings. At least two are located above parking areas at boat ramps. It appears that eagles are adapting to human activity. Perhaps a mutual benefit has grown out of this relationship, since most people who have eagle nests on their property are absolutely delighted. The world-famous Decorah nesting eagles that are featured on Bob Anderson's webcam certainly seem to have improved the status of the bald eagle as well.

From the essay by Jon W. Stravers in The Raptors of Iowa , paintings by James F. Landenberger

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