A female American Bald Eagle has been spotted incubating eggs in a nest in a Cook County forest preserve in Palos Township and officials believe that the eaglets have recently hatched, officials announced today.
The eagle family was spotted in a in a Cottonwood tree in the Southwest suburb on Forest Preserve District of Cook County property according to officials with the forest preserve and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which announced the finding in a press release.
American Bald Eagles have been migrating through the Chicago area in larger numbers in recent years, and a number of bald eagle’s nests have been found in the County in the past, officials said.
Officials believe this is the first hatching site that the public can see in more than a century.
“To have these American Bald Eagles, our county’s national symbol, choose to nest and lay eggs here in Cook County is incredible news for our local residents, and indeed for our nation as a whole,” said Forest Preserve District of Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle.
It will be several weeks before the fledglings begin to learn to fly and make their way from the nest. The adult eagles will be hunting in the area to bring the hungry eaglets food, officials said.
If the nest is successful, the eagles are expected to remain in the nest for the summer season, eventually migrating further south in late autumn. Eagles generally return to the same nesting site each year.
“The fact that these eagles have returned to the area to nest demonstrates a healthy, diverse ecosystem in this area, and will have a positive impact on all of our wildlife,” Preckwinkle said in a statement.
The Cook County and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officails are taking steps to ensure the safety of this endangered species. Access to members of the public wishing to view the nest will be limited to approximately 500 yards in order to avoid disturbing the eagles. Forest Preserve District police will also be monitoring the site to ensure that all local, state and federal laws are followed.
According to the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, interfering with the nesting of bald eagles may result in a fine of at least $100,000, and up to a year in jail term for a first offense. Penalties increase for additional offenses, and a second violation of this Act becomes a felony.
The Forest Preserve District of Cook County will provide updates on the eagle through its website, www.fpdcc.com/baldeagles. People can also become fans of the District on Facebook and Twitter @fpdcc.