Eagles, eagle cam back in action

Nest now under construction at Riverside Park

If you enjoy watching eagles at Riverside Park in Miles City, here’s some good news for you.

It apparently could be a pair of bald eagles that nested there before or it could be their offspring that are building a new nest there now.

Dean Hanvold of Technologies Plus shared news of the eagle sightings with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks last week after they were filmed on the Eagle Cam on Main Street.

The Eagle Cam, mounted and protected in a box in the same tree as the nest, was turned off last fall and is usually turned back on when the eagles are noticed in the park.

Hanvold does the technical work and the ROCKS (Raising Our Community Kids Safely) program oversees the operation.

“I am surprised,” Hanvold said Tuesday. “I thought they were done. They showed up for a day or two (in February) and then disappeared.”

Joyce Vera, program coordinator of the neighboring ROCKS after-school and summer  programs, called Hanvold and said she had seen them bringing in sticks and such.

“We turned the camera back on. … It looks like they have started a new nest to the left of the oldest nest,” Hanvold said.

“The other day I checked and they were both up there. They’re building a new nest right in the crotch of the tree to the left of the old nest.”

For several seasons, the eagles have nested in large cottonwood trees in the backyard of the ROCKS program, which provides the Eagle Cam Internet connection that was launched in 2014 through several community partners.

But last year the eagles did not have a successful hatch there, and later the nest was damaged by wind. It was thought that the pair had moved on this season because typically the female lays eggs sometime in  February.

“I was really excited to get them back here,” Vera said of seeing an eagle carrying sticks to the former nest site. “We were all disappointed when half the nest fell, but they’ve started to build a new one.”

Other ROCKS staffers have seen two eagles in the area in recent days, and it appears that new materials are being deposited near remnants of former nests, Vera said.

She said the 50 children in the program, all in grades 1-6, share her enjoyment of watching the eagles and their eaglets.

“The kids get so excited about the eaglets,” said Vera said, who has been watching eagles for about 14 years. “They get to watch the eaglets grow and they see the parents teach them how to fly.”

Eagles don’t necessarily reproduce every year. When they do, adults take turns incubating one to three eggs, which typically hatch in about 35 days. Adults care for the eaglets until they take flight at around 10-12  1/2  weeks.

It is not uncommon for eagles to have a second nest site within their territory. Fish, Wildlife and Parks pilot Neil Cadwell reported recently in an FWP news release that he had spotted an eagles nest on the north side of the Yellowstone River in the direction of the airport.

People interested in the eagles’ activities may tune in to the web cam at https://53431558b81c6.click2stream.com.

Vera said the website has had viewers from across the country and elsewhere.

“It used to get a lot (of hits), even in Germany,” she said. “I think people also like seeing the  eagles build  their nest.”

(Contact Abe Winter at starcity@midrivers.com or 406-234-0450.)