USFWS Offices and Refuges Near You

The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Find a location near you.

The Midwest Region includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin. Find a location near you »

 

Conserving the Nature of America

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.

Nest Chronology of Bald Eagles in the Midwest

 

 

Here you will find information on the different stages of bald eagle nesting, and the month of the year to which each stage corresponds .

 

 

A photo from a nest camera captures a bald eagle bringing nest material to build up the nest.

A photo from a nest camera captures a bald eagle bringing nest material to build up the nest.

Photo by Darrell Miller/Creative Commons

Things to know:

-Eagles may start nesting earlier in lower latitudes (Missouri, southern Iowa); later in high latitudes (ie: Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Northern Minnesota).

-Nests are considered active as soon as eagles return for the season and nest building/maintenance begins, even if no eggs are laid.

 

-Eagle nests and nest trees are protected year-round from removal.

 

-Some eagles remain at their nest site

year-round. For help determining when

these nests become active, please contact a regional eagle biologist for assistance.

 

Nesting Stage by Month

 

 

Jan

Feb

Mar

April

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Courtship

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nest Building

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egg Laying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Incubation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hatch to Fledging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Fledging Care

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you know when the eagles returned to their nest for the year, or you know the date of a specific activity (chicks hatched, etc), you can use Nesting Start and End Dates for Bald Eagles in the Midwest to determine each stage of the nesting cycle.

 

Nesting Bald Eagle Sensitivity to Human Activities


Below details the relative sensitivity of bald eagles to human activity during their nesting season. For more detailed information on the stages of the nesting season, please see Bald Eagle Natural History and

Sensitivity to Human Activity.

 

 

Phase

Activity

Sensitivity to Human Activity

Comments

I

Courtship and Nest Building
(15-30 days)

Most sensitive period; likely to respond negatively to disturbance

Most critical time period.  Disturbance may cause adults to abandon nest.  Bald eagles in newly established nests/territories are more likely to abandon nest sites.

II

Egg Laying
(5-10 days)

Very sensitive period

Human activity (even short duration) may cause nest desertion and abandonment for the breeding season. 

III

Incubation and early nesting period (35 days)

Very sensitive period

Adults are less likely to abandon the nest near and after hatching.  However, if adults leave eggs and young unattended; eggs are susceptible to cooling, loss of moisture, overheating, and predation; young are vulnerable to elements. 

 

IV

Nestling period; chicks are 4 to 8 weeks old

Moderately sensitive period

Likelihood of nest abandonment somewhat decreases.  Chicks can maintain body temperature and are less vulnerable to the elements.  However, if adults are disturbed and leave the nest nestlings may miss feedings, or predators may attack chicks.

V

Nestlings 8 weeks old through fledging (occurs when chicks are about 12 weeks old)

Very Sensitive

In preparation for learning to fly, chicks hop around on branches and flap their wings to gain strength.  If nestlings 8 weeks and older are disturbed, they may try to leave the nest prematurely and can die in a fall to the ground, or be vulnerable to predators on the ground.

VI

Post-fledging
(Chicks are 16-18 weeks old)

Low Sensitivity

Young eagles still dependent on nest for shelter; parents will continue to provide food for chicks for four-six weeks after chicks can fly.  Chicks are still gaining flight strength and may fly short distances and may perch on or close to the ground.

 

 


Eagle Natural History

 

Midwest Eagle