- Associated Press - Friday, February 10, 2017

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) - Once near extinction, the bald eagle population is seeing a spike in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa.

Warm temperatures ahead mean the birds are following their waterfowl prey as they head north, the Omaha World-Herald (https://bit.ly/2kb5vPc ) reported. The migration makes it prime time for eagle-viewing, said Joel Jorgensen, Nebraska Game and Parks’ nongame bird program manager.

The state agency documented a record 162 active bald eagle nests in 2016, a huge jump from when the state recorded its first active nest in about a century in 1991.

Jorgensen said the eagle population will flourish as long as illegal shooting of the birds is minimized and the pesticide DDT stays banned. Bald eagles are protected by federal law.

“We’re getting those things out of the way and letting eagles be eagles and letting them recover on their own,” Jorgensen said.

Eagles are also adapting to environments with human activity. One nest was spotted within the city of Lincoln, while another was found in northwest Omaha.

“In the last two weeks, I have seen at least five nests in or near the metro area without even spending any amount of time specifically looking for them,” bird watcher Clem Klaphake said.

Some large nests at DeSoto National Wildlife Refuge in Missouri Valley, Iowa, can be seen from a nearby road.

That’s as close as photographer Michael Cerizo will get. And when he takes photos of the eagles during the weeks that eggs are laid, he makes sure to use a longer camera lens so as to not disturb the birds.

“They are just a majestic bird,” he said. “It’s kind of like the icon of America.”


Information from: Omaha World-Herald, https://www.omaha.com

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