Bald Eagle

The Missouri Department of Conservation is reporting an increase in the number of bald eagle nests that have been spotted in the state.

The Missouri Department of Conservation is reporting an increase in the number of bald eagle nests that have been spotted in the state.

Janet Haslerig, resource scientist, said the agency and its patterns had tracked 502 active eagle nests statewide as of late May.

She said nesting eagles are not as prominently visible during the summer as they are in winter.

Migrating eagles move south ahead of icy winter conditions and they fly north again in spring.

They often congregate in groups near lakes or rivers where fish or waterfowl are available as a food source.

In the St. Joseph and Kansas City areas, there were around 29 active eagle nests located. The counties include Buchanan with 4, Platte with 7, Clay with 4, Jackson with 8, Lafayette with 3 and Cass with 3.

Haslerig said eagle nests can be large circular structures of sticks and twigs. Often, the older the nest, the larger it becomes, with more sticks added annually.

In addition to eagles using Missouri as a year-round home or nesting spot, there are thousands that migrate into the state during the winter.

She said the trees where they nest are large and usually offer them a wide field of vision for their surroundings. Adults and fledgling eagles can often be spotted sitting on nest sights or on nearby limbs and sometimes only an eagle’s white head is visible above the nest sides.

The increase in bald eagles is considered a conservation success story because the species’ numbers have greatly rebounded following the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972.

Bald eagles were removed from the nation’s threatened and endangered species list in 2007.

However, bald eagles are still listed as a species of conservation concern in Missouri and nests should not be disturbed.

Margaret Slayton can be reached at margaret.slayton@newspressnow.com.