Thursday, January 13, 2011

Eagles in the sky for year 2011

In The Woodlands, Texas, near Houston, we have the American Bald Eagle in our community. There is other natural wildlife as well. All of it is on the decline as the community continues to be built out. An Eagle needs space. We have had space for them over the years, and that is the reason they are here. That space is filled with large Pine trees and dense undergrowth. In the summer the birds migrate to the north, but by the time it gets really cold up north, they are back here to nest in December. The Woodlands development Company owns the current nesting grounds of the pair that I observe each year. It appears to me that their nesting ground will disappear within the next three years. Their previous nesting location here was dislocated by the construction of of apartments, condos and homes. The birds built a nest close-by when the previous site was threatened by that construction and human activity increased there about 5 years ago. They prefer to use the same nest year after year. It saves them time and energy, besides proving to be safe from prior years' use. Today they inhabit an area of about 10 acres which should be preserved for their use. The chance of that happening is extremely low. It is high value land. As our pine forests decline and is displaced by concrete and brick,one of our precious residents will lose their habitat. Will they move to Spring Creek? Will they move to the 242/1488 area near-by? They have are options, but prefer and perhaps even demand the dense forest and the undergrowth near the lake where there is plenty of food. There, the parents teach the birds to catch small animals like rodents, squirrels, snakes, rabbits, and other small animals. There, they teach their young to fish.

The preservation of their habitation is an opportunity for an organization and/or the developer. With pride, the residents of The Woodlands speak about our community - we have the Bald Eagle right here among us! Wouldn't it be great if we had something for our nearly useless boats on the waterway to observe from the boats, like an Eagle's habitat? We have an opportunity, but we can't see a vision by the development company to develop based on the natural ecology. The Woodlands is unique but it is becoming less so as the developer continues to displace its strengths and values with the developers' own vision of what those strengths and values should be.This is typical of development everywhere. There remains hope for these birds, as slim as it may be. Savvy business people know that you should leverage the strengths you have and build on it, not try to make it something else.

The Woodlands maintains its parks for people, generally not for birds and animals (although it could be changing as I am working with others on a project to place Bluebird houses in the parks). People are not compatible with these large shy birds of prey. The Eagles are not birds which tolerate "tourists" who infringe on their hunting territory. To provide a safe place for their eaglets, they require a family atmosphere away from human threat. They need their space and a natural environment to fly, hunt and care for their little ones. We residents do get the thrill of seeing and hearing these birds in the Spring and early Summer. This year I hope to do some observations with a spotting scope. Meanwhile, I wanted to share this year's photographs with my readers. These photos were taken here in The Woodlands in December 2010 with careful consideration and respect for the birds' privacy before their eggs hatched.

If you want to read past years' articles on this mating pair of Eagles, please refer to the links provided below.

Other Commentary articles

1 comment:

ChristineMM said...

Thank you for these bald eagle posts.

Were you at the bald eagle lecture last night as part of the Walk in the Woods series?

I am concerned with the current construction of Hughes Landing infringing on the eagle's nest. I was hoping you would post more about the eagles.

The law is they have to leave 10-15 large trees within one mile.

Someone in the audience said the last nest in East Shore, they chose to cut down the tree with the nest in it! I guess the law does not protect that actual nesting tree!