Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two American bald eagles die in nest on Honeymoon Island

DUNEDIN — Douglas Yarbrough peered through his binoculars Monday and saw stillness.

In a treetop nest, a 2-month-old American bald eagle hung its head, perched beside the body of its dead sibling.

The eagles hatched at Honeymoon Island State Park in March. But by Tuesday, both were dead.

"That nest was one of the most popular sites in the whole area," said Yarbrough, a longtime bird watcher from Palm Harbor. "This shouldn't be happening."

Researchers must conduct a necropsy before they can determine a cause of death, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Kevin Baxter.

"These birds were healthy and flapping around a few days ago. It doesn't make any sense," said Barb Walker, a conservation advocate with the Clearwater Audubon Society.

Walker applied on Tuesday for a state permit to remove the dead eaglets from the nest. She was approved Wednesday morning.

By early afternoon, Dunedin public works employees were on hand with a bucket truck, along with Honeymoon Island officials and Clearwater Audubon Society volunteers, to take the dead eaglets from their nest.

As a Dunedin city employee placed the carcasses into a bucket and a trash bag, feathers from the dead eaglets blew into the wind. On the ground, Walker and other Audubon Society volunteers examined the bodies.

After more than 36 hours of decay, only one of the 8-pound birds was in proper condition to undergo a necropsy. That eaglet was taken to the Bronson Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Kissimmee, where lab results will take four to six weeks.

The deaths come just one month after two young eagles died in Dunedin from avian pox, a disease that causes wartlike growths on the unfeathered parts of a bird's body. A third eaglet that flew away and didn't return is presumed dead.

The birds could have died for any number of reasons, including, Walker said, food contamination or mosquito-borne illness.

Honeymoon Island's osprey population has also declined in the past two years, according to Walker. Just one of the park's 16 osprey nests hosted successfully fledged osprey this spring. Walker is among those wondering why. "Without good, solid science … all we can do is guess," she said.

Two American bald eagles die in nest on Honeymoon Island 05/29/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 29, 2013 11:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin


    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]