Will County soars high with four active eagle nests

Eagle in nest at Will County forest preserve
Donate Today

The Forest Preserve District of Will County has discovered a fourth eagle nest on its premises, with each of the nests they’ve found having a pair of eagles incubating eggs.

Will County Audubon member and forest preserve volunteer Joel Craig said this is the first time the county has had four active nests.

“Our newest nest is a replacement for one that collapsed last fall across the river from a preserve,” said Craig. “This new nest is also the largest one at 8 feet deep from bottom to top.”

A typical nest is usually four to five feet wide and two to four feet deep. They can weigh up to 1,000 pounds. That extreme weight is what makes them prone to collapse.

New eaglets will start to appear later this month in Will County

Eagle eggs have a 35-day incubation period, and the birds usually lay one to three eggs at a time. The forest preserve expects hatchlings around March 23 for the first nest, and roughly a week later for the other three.

One nest has created 11 eaglets since 2019.

“To see eagles rebound like they have in this area in the past 10 years has been pretty exciting,” said Craig. “To be threatened and endangered when I was a kid to what we’re seeing now, it’s really a population explosion in our area over the past few years.”

Craig added the surge in eagle population is evidence the local forest preserves have clean water and a healthy fish population.

Each eagle nest is monitored by Will County staff and trusted volunteers.

“We submit all of the nest data including nest building/repairs, first date observed incubating, hatch date estimates, and number of eaglets to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service so they can keep tabs on the overall population,” said Becky Blankenship, the forest preserve’s wildlife ecologist.

Do not approach an eagle nest

Will County officials warn residents not to approach an eagle nest. Human interference can cause an eagle to abandon its eggs and leave the nest. For that reason, the forest preserve does not disclose nest locations to the public.

The National Audubon Society recommends keeping a distance of approximately 100 yards from an eagle’s nest. Nest locations are federally protected.

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!