Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco County officials consider building replacement nest for eagles

HOLIDAY — The bald eagles have flown north for the summer, but they're expected back in the fall. However, the pair will arrive to find their 800-pound nest gone, along with the dead pine tree that once supported it.

During their absence, county officials and representatives of Progress Energy are trying to figure out a way to offer them a new home near the original one on the utility's property off Anclote Road.

"It's a shame the nest came down," said David Bruzek, lead environmental specialist for Progress Energy. "But the silver lining is it came down outside of nesting season when we didn't have any eggs in there."

The nest, thought to have sheltered the same pair for seven years, had evolved into a tourist attraction. Motorists would sometimes park along the side of the road to catch a glimpse of the birds and their young.

County and utility officials say they and others have been mulling over whether to build a home on a platform or a nest in another nearby tree in case the eagles return. Though the birds tend to return to the same places, there's no guarantee.

"We're looking at various possibilities to providing an alternative nest," Bruzek said. Now the best bet is building a nest of natural materials in an existing tree.

A platform was considered but Bruzek said he feared an artificial structure might create an imprint and limit the younger birds to rely only on artificial nests.

Officials also want to make sure any tree that is used is healthy and won't immediately suffer the fate of the previous one.

Progress Energy officials also want to make sure they're balancing the needs of the birds and their enthusiasts with the needs of the nearby power plant. And they want to make sure no laws are violated.

"You're not supposed to have any activity within a 330 (foot) radius of an eagles' nest," Bruzek said. Whether building a new nest for the birds counts as activity also will need to be determined. Bruzek plan to get any plans okayed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Birders and other experts say the nest, between the entrances to Anclote Gulf Park and Anclote River Park, was highly unusual because of its visibility to the public: Eagles' nests are usually either hidden from view on private property or else located deep in the woods.

Bruzek said the adult pair, if they have survived, will likely return to the area.

"If we build a nest out of natural materials, they might choose to enhance that and do the breeding cycle in that one."

However, the distractions of the highway and the fact that the original nest is gone may send the birds looking elsewhere. Eagles typically build nests deep in the woods. But some have adapted as more forests are cleared and replaced with shopping malls and tract homes.

"The urbanized birds are much more tolerant," Bruzek said.

As for the cost of building a new home, Bruzek doesn't expect to have to spend too much.

"I'm sure we'll have lots of volunteer help," he said.

Indeed, Pasco County officials, who have promoted the county as an alternative to beaches and theme parks, would love for the birds to return.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm for doing something in that area," former communications specialist Amy Ellis told Tourist Development Council members last week before resigning to begin a similar job with the Tampa Bay Regional Transportation Authority. "We've looked at an education kiosk, a webcam so people could observe the birds. There was a lot of excitement when these birds had their offspring."

Pasco County officials consider building replacement nest for eagles 07/30/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 30, 2010 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Pete's Downtown Looper expands service with $900,000 grant



    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG ­— The Downtown Looper will expand its route and its hours starting in October 2018 thanks to a $900,000 grant from the Florida Department of Transportation.

  2. Latest sewage crisis fallout: Higher utility bills in St. Pete

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — For months the cost of the city's sewage crisis has been measured in terms of environmental damage, legal ramifications and political repercussions.

    Now residents are about to get the bill.

    Signs at North Shore Park in St. Petersburg warn people in September 2016 to stay out of the water due to contamination from partially treated sewage during the height of the city's sewage crisis. Now the City Council is considering how much to raise utility rates to pay the $326 million bill to fix St. Petersburg's sewage system. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. Rays add a bat, too, acquiring Lucas Duda from Mets


    The Rays made another big move today, acquiring 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.

    Duda, 31, is a lefty slugger who will take over as the Rays primary DH against right-handers, with Corey Dickerson now playing most of the time in the outfield.

    To get Duda, the Rays gave up minor-league RHP Drew Smith, …

    The Rays acquired 1B/DH Lucas Duda from the Mets.
  4. Florida's legal losses up to $19 million and counting since 2011


    From Gary Fineout of the Associated Press:

    This is getting expensive.
  5. Susanne Bartsch installation at Tampa Museum of Art


    Susanne Bartsch and Raquel Martuscelli adjust the hat and hair on a mannequin in the Susanne Bartsch: Art-a-Porter exhibit on Thursday July 27, 2017 at the Tampa Museum of Art, in Tampa, Fla. The exhibit features designs worn by Bartsch and highlights her career in fashion. Bartsch is known for her over the top style and lavish parties thrown in the New York club scene, since the 1980s. The exhibit runs July 30 through November 12.