This past weekend we spent some time at one our favorite spots in Ohio. It is a destination we hit every year and always come away wishing we lived closer. The Lake Erie Islands and mainland is our choice spot. We usually spend the weekend on Put In Bay but this year we chose to stay on the mainland and visit some spots we haven't had time for in the past. We have become a fan of B&Bs in the last few years and chose to stay at Five Bells Inn on Catawba Island. It is a quaint 100 year old house with cottages on a lagoon to the rear and a beautiful view of the lake to the front. The couple that runs the place are lovely people and make a great breakfast! This was our second visit to Five Bells which offered us the awesome opportunity this time to view Bald Eagles!
The lagoon behind the house offers lots of wildlife viewing opportunities. Egrets, ducks, Blue Herons and more populate this natural lagoon. I especially enjoyed hearing the croaking bull frog although he stayed incognito. According to the inn keepers, this is the second year the eagles have been in the lagoon. They have had the pleasure of watching them build their nests and then hatch and raise babies for the last two years. This year they hatched two babies both of which we saw flying around the lagoon and perched in the nearby trees. They built their nest right behind the cottages this year but unfortunately it was destroyed during a recent severe storm that passed through the area. Despite the loss of the nest, the eagles have not left the area and continue to offer glimpses of themselves now and then to guests staying at the inn.
The juvenile eagles are slighty different in appearance from the full grown adults. These eaglets were probably in the 5-6 month age range. They appeared to be nearly full size (10-14 lbs) but they have dark heads versus the white head you would expect to see on an adult. Eagles have a wingspan of 6-8 feet which is quite impressive when seeing them fly. Their staple food is fish but they can also feed on small rodents, waterfowl and turtles. The innkeepers have seen them carrying fish from the lake on a regular schedule which is only about 100 yards from where they hang out.
Survival over the last 100 years has been difficult for the Bald Eagle. It is a sad story of near decemation resulting from chemical poisoning and hunting by humans. Fortunately, it is also a story of survival. Eagles were declared an endangered species in 1967 and have been slowly recovering in numbers. Forty years later in 2007, the Bald Eagle was removed from the Endangered Species list. Seeing them on the shores of Lake Erie today is a true testament to this statement. As a kid, we spent nearly every summer weekend in the same area and never once did I see a Bald Eagle.
The coolest part of experiencing the eagles was the sound they make calling out to each other. They have a very distinct call that we heard nearly non-stop over the weekend. It is music I could listen to all day. It is a song of survival, life and most importantly not extinction.
To learn more about the Bald Eagle:
Cool nest webcam: http://www.ustream.tv/decoraheagles