The bald eagle has long been regarded as a majestic creature, soaring over lakes and streams in the Wisconsin Northwoods. Visitors of Nitschke's Northern Resort often catch a glimpse of these birds while relaxing on our lagoon dock overlooking Lake Minocqua. For many years now, a pair of bald eagles have made a home in one of the large trees near our beach. Many pictures, stories and sightings of this pair led us into reading more about their habitat, lifestyle and history. We hope you find the information as interesting as we have.
The bald eagle prefers wooded areas near large bodies of water. Some eagles can be found living along coastal areas near the southern most part of their habitat region. The bald eagle only lives on the North American continent and is primarily found in Alaska and Canada, but has been spotted as south as Mexico. Part of the lure of these birds is that they are the "only eagle solely native to North America." (arkive.org)
While bald eagles will tolerate life near humans, they do prefer secluded, wooden areas with tall trees with which to perch on (making Nitschke's Northern Resort a prime location). They enjoy the view from the upper-most branches, providing a wide open view of their feeding ground. (Our pair have perched themselves up on one of the tallest trees on the property, directly next to the water.) They can also be found near fish farms, fish processing facilities and heavily populated streams, for instance, during salmon runs.
The bald eagle has been known to push his weight around, stealing food from other smaller animals. It prefers fresh fish, but will also feast on frogs, reptiles, turtles, crabs, other birds and even trash. It is a great scavenger and a very resilient bird. The eagle is at the top of his food chain which makes him more susceptible to pollution from the progressive concentrations of poisons through the food chain he eats.
Bald eagles have incredible eyesight which allows them to see fish from a mile away. They lock eyes with their target and can swoop down at a speed of 100 mph to grab their unsuspecting prey. Trust me, this is an impressive sight to see!
Bald eagles usually mate for life and display beautiful bonding techniques which can include "locking the talons, and cartwheeling towards the ground, only breaking off at the last moment." (arkive.org) Talk about trust!
When the eagles are around 4-5 years old, they begin breeding. Both the male and female help in building their nest made of sticks, branches, moss, grass and other soft material. They typically build nests high up in tall trees or on the side of cliffs to protect their young from predators. The bald eagle nest is one of the largest nests in the world, in part because they slowly add material year after year.
Once the nest has been prepared, the eagle will lay 1-3 white eggs. Both parents take part in keeping the eggs warm for 30-40 days. Once hatched, eaglets, as they're called, are grey in color and slowly convert into brown. They will remain brown for many years until they reach full adulthood, at which time they obtain their signature bald (or white) heads.
"The American bald eagle was adopted as the national bird symbol of the United States of America in 1782. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus Leucocephalus) was chosen for its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it's native to North America." (https://statesymbolsusa.org)
The bald eagle experienced a severe decline in population in the first part of the 20th century due to over-hunting and the excessive use of the very harmful pesticide DDT. While recovery efforts such as the Endangered Species Acts in the 1970's helped to revive the population, it wasn't until the ban on DDT that the eagle's situation significantly improved. Remarkably, while given the space and opportunity to recover, this amazing bird of prey was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2007. Now, it is now thriving in the northern most regions of North America (including Minocqua, WI).
(above picture is our pair of eagles hanging out on a branch...we call them lovebirds)
If you have never seen a bald eagle in the wild you are missing out. Guests of the resort have had the opportunity to watch eaglets grow to adulthood; and adults build nests and fish for food. Many photographs have been taken and shared with us over the years and never does one bore us. If the idea of seeing the bald eagle in action excites you, then give us a call to reserve a cabin for your next trip up north. We'll save you a spot on the deck to watch these amazing birds, in action, in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. See you soon!