The Bald Eagles of North Park

The Bald Eagles of North Park

And the dedicated people behind the cameras.

By, Amy Nelson  (Article previously published in the Fall 2019 RCTC Newsletter

Meet Howard Kepple, Susan Post, William Finlay and Walter McKinnis.  Collectively, they have over 100 years of photography experience.  Having met each other within the past year, they now form a team dedicating hours observing and photographing a pair of nesting bald eagles in North Park.  This group willingly shares their knowledge of the birds with a number of interested locals.  Howard’s North Park Bald Eagles Facebook Page is exploding in popularity.  The team has created a sense of fascination and fellowship around a species that only shed the “endangered” designation in 2007.   The focus on the two eagles of North Park seems to offer a welcome respite from the polarized atmosphere of the political scene.

Late on a recent Friday morning, I found eight cars parked next to the grove, situated at the corner of Brown Rd and Pearce Mill Rd.   The entire team had taken up their positions hours earlier.   That morning, the female – Ms. Rachel – was photographed circling above the nest.   Although it was a clear, sunny morning, weather plays little role in dictating the team’s schedule. Their presence at the park is driven solely by the activity of the eagles. 

Observations shared by the team include the following:

  • The male - Mr. Carson - is an estimated 6 years of age. Ms. Rachel’s age is undetermined. Her wingspan is a whopping 7 feet, making her larger than her partner. Their names are derived from the Rachel Carson Trail, which runs beneath their nest. 
  • The eagles’ primary reason for setting up residence in North Park is use of the lake as a food source.
  • The eagles’ departure each summer is part of a natural pattern.  As Susan describes it: “They vacation separately. Mr Carson and Ms Rachel do not spend their summers together.”
  • The eagles produced an egg last spring.  (This was disputed by some local birders.)  Unfortunately, the egg did not survive. 
  • The North Park eagles are expected to produce one or two eggs near the end of February or early March of 2020. 
  • The eagles will continue to improve the nearly 2,000-pound nest, which has an interior approaching the size of  a queen-sized bed. (The largest recorded bald eagle nest weighed almost 3 tons.) 

The team members are enthusiastic promoters of the eagles and willingly share their knowledge and understanding.  When asked  how long they intend to maintain their vigilance, each team member invariably offers the same answer: “As long as the eagles are here, we will be here.”

Update: As of March, 2020, there is speculation that two eggs exist in the nest.  

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