Eagles in the Lorain County Metro Parks


Photo by Lou GaettaSandy Ridge Reservation Eagles in 2002.
Photo by Lou Gaeta, 2002

A pair of Bald Eagles have been nesting at Sandy Ridge Reservation since 2002. They have built three nests; using the current location since Superstorm Sandy blew out a different nest in 2012. There have been four different eagles during that time.

The eagle pair has successfully fledged eaglets almost every year, with the exception of 2009. That year, after the eaglets hatched, the "mother" eagle was attacked by another female eagle and never returned to the nest (she later died). The "father" eagle tried to take care of the young by himself, but couldn't keep them warm and go get food at the same time, so the eaglets perished. The male later hooked up with another female (presumably the one that killed his former mate).

A couple years later, the original male disappeared during nesting season. The eaglets were half-grown. The female adult eagle called for her mate for several days, attracting the attention of “outsider” adult male eagles. She eventually accepted one of her suitors, and he helped her raise the eaglets. He was a great Step-Dad! Today we have two different adults than the pair that began nesting in 2002.



Fish is the main source of the Bald Eagle diet, but these birds eat a wide variety of foods depending on what is available. Here are some of the things we’ve observed them eating at Sandy Ridge:

  • Birds: Ducks, Geese, and Coots
  • Mammals: Muskrat, Rabbit, and Groundhog
  • Reptiles: Snakes and Turtles
  • Carrion: dead White-Tail Deer



Photo by Tom MahlOne of the Sandy Ridge Eagles gathering cattails to help build the nest in 2013.
Photo by Tom Mahl, 2013

Bald Eagles build some of the largest of all bird nests—typically 5 to 6 feet in diameter and 2 to 4 feet tall, usually cone shaped. Both sexes bring materials to the nest, but the female does most of the placement. They weave sticks and fill in the gaps with grasses and moss. Quite often at Sandy Ridge you’ll see them taking cattails off the tops of muskrat huts.

The female usually lays two eggs at the end of February/beginning of March. Parents share incubation duties, but the female does most of it. Incubation is typically 35 days.



Photo by Tom MahlEagle's Nest at
Carlisle Visitor Center, LaGrange

There was a famous eagle nest in Vermilion, Ohio back in the 1920’s known as The Great Nest of Brownhelm. It was used by eagles for over 30 years. When the tree came down in a storm in 1925, the nest measured 12 feet tall and weighed almost two tons! You can see an artist reproduction of this nest at the Carlisle Visitor Center in Lagrange.





  • Wingspan averages around 7 feet
  • Average Weight is 10 to 14 pounds
  • It takes about five years to get solid white head and tail feathers. But they are sexually mature at 3 years of age, still with a predominantly dark head and tail.
  • An eagle's eye is almost as large as a human's, but its sharpness is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision.
  • Shrill, high pitched, and twittering are common descriptions used for bald eagle vocalizations.
  • Bald Eagles can live a long time, with a longevity record of 28 years in the wild and 36 years in captivity.
  • Benjamin Franklin disliked the selection of the Bald Eagle as our national bird due to its thieving ways. Eagles will steal fish from other birds like Osprey.


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