Urban eagles' vacation leaves void
Northeast-side raptors apparently fed up with crow harassment
By Rick LaFrombois
Wausau Daily Herald
Saturday, July 30, 2005
A popular pair of eagles that has nested in a treetop near Mino's Cucina Italiana in Wausau since 2001 has been noticeably absent since spring.
The nest on Wausau's northeast side has sat empty since late April or May, neighbors say. And those who drop by to see the eagles on Golf Club Road have driven away disappointed.
Residents say the eagles left the urban nest in April after being constantly harassed by crows, which would swoop three or four at a time at the eagles.
"It's a terrible feeling when you can't help (them)," Jackie Soucek, 72, said. "And the crows are the size of chickens - they're huge."
The eagles had three chicklets last year, but neighbors aren't sure if the pair mated this year. No eaglets were seen prior to the pair leaving the area, although the eagles were seen preparing the nest.
An eagle's nest is only a place to lay eggs and raise young. It's not a year-round home. An eagle pair begins preparing the nest in late February or early March, lays eggs, waits for them to hatch and then nurtures the eaglets and prepares them for their first flight.
Chicks typically are born in April or May, and it takes weeks for them to gain enough strength to leave the nest, which is about 4 feet in diameter and a couple feet deep.
Jeremy Haboush, Soucek's grandson, said he heard squawking in spring similar to when the eaglets squawked last year when they were hungry.
Haboush, 20, lives in an apartment near the nest. His grandparents live nearby in a ranch-style duplex that stands less than 20 feet from the tree in which the eagles built their nest.
Neighbors and bird watchers have stood captivated trying to take in the family's development. Some paid regular visits to Mino's parking lot to observe them.
"It seems like a lot of people are disappointed too," Haboush said. "They pull in and look at you like what the heck - where are your eagles?"
The behavior of the crows in spring so upset Soucek, who moved to Wausau in December 2003 from Crystal Lake, Ill., that she called Marge Gibson, executive director of the nonprofit Raptor Education Group International based in Antigo.
Gibson, who was not available for comment, told Soucek that the eagles would likely be back next year, "because that's too much effort to build a nest like that," Soucek said.
Whether they mated this year or not, the eagles probably won't leave the nest for good any time soon, Gibson has told the Daily Herald. Once a pair of eagles finds a sturdy tree and builds its nest, they typically live there their whole lives - as long as 50 years - and raise their family.
When eaglets are ready to fly, the family no longer needs to rely on the nest for shelter, but the eagles remain in the area.
Nests are not unusual in north central Wisconsin, but the nest in Wausau is significant because it was built in a residential neighborhood.
Bird experts say the Wausau eagles' nest is the most urban in the state.
Haboush said the family misses the eagles terribly.
"We kind of miss taking pictures of them, too," he said.