National Wildlife Refuge System
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Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon/California was astir this spring about its first nesting pair of bald eagles in about 150 years. The eagles began nest-building in April in a willow tree next to the auto tour route, so close that refuge staff closed the road temporarily so the birds would not be disturbed. “But they sure weren’t disturbed by the cars when they were making the nest,” said deputy project leader Greg Austin. “They weren’t disturbed one bit.”

Bird watchers could still catch a view through a scope from a pullout along the highway. It didn’t take long for word to get out.

“It’s exciting, “ said Austin “Many times you see one bird sitting on the nest, and the other bird is sitting right next to it in full view. They’ll take turns incubating.”

Lower Klamath refuge is known as a prime eagle roosting area in winter, when it teems with migratory waterfowl. “We can get 500 eagles,” said Austin. But when the waterfowl leave in the spring, the eagles generally do, too. Except this time.

“Maybe when they were setting this nest up, they had this huge buffet right in front of them,” laughed Austin, who said there were still enough for the eagles to feed on.

If hatchlings arrived in mid-May, said Austin, the refuge would keep the road closed until the eaglets “have enough down on them that, if their parents leave, they can thermo-regulate on their own.”

Contact: Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge at 530-667-2231.

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