Oh baby! 5 eaglets hatch in two Will County nests this month

Five eaglets have hatched in a Will County forest preserve this month, in what conservations described as a good sign that eagle numbers are continuing to rebound in the region.

Three eaglets were spotted on April 4 in one nest and two hatchlings were confirmed in a second nest on Friday, according to a statement from the Forest Preserve District of Will County.

The eaglets parents were caught on forest preserve video busily feeding their fuzzy-headed chicks, forest preserve officials said.

Joel Craig, a volunteer eagle monitor for the Forest Preserve, said it’s exciting to see the hatchlings, especially the trio in one nest.

Two eagle nests located in the Forest Preserve District of Will County have produced five eaglets this spring. The hatchlings are a good sign that a rebound of eagles in the area is continuing.

"Seeing the next generation of bald eagles locally makes me extremely happy – and in a sense, relieved," said Craig, who is a member of the Will County Audubon. "You never know how inclement weather might affect the nests from the time the eggs are laid through the first few weeks in the lives of the eaglets."

It's the second time in three years that the nest has produced three eaglets, the statement said.


Generally measuring 4-feet to 5-feet wide and as much as 4-feet deep, eagle nests are used year after year and require some maintenance before each nesting season.

Forest preserve officials said eagles will usually keep building on the nest until it gets too big, and either collapses or the weight of it breaks the tree. Then they'll find a new location and build another one.

Craig said the eagle baby boom shows that the species is finding Will County a hospitable place to nest.

"The way resources are managed within the Forest Preserve District is having an overwhelmingly positive impact on the ecosystems in which these preserves exist," he said. "This is not only good for the environment, but it’s also a very visible return on the investment of Will County taxpayers and the financial resources with which the Forest Preserve is entrusted."

Craig said that an increasing number of immature bald eagles in the winter indicates the ones we're seeing now are residents and not migrants. It's also evidence that Will County has good, clean water and a healthy fish population to support them year-round.

"To see eagles rebound like they have in this area in the past 10 years has been pretty exciting," Craig said. "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.

Eagles and their nests are federally protected, and human interference could cause the birds to abandon the nest and their eggs.

The National Audubon Society recommends being at least 330 feet away from a nest, about the length of a football field. Officials encouraged anyone who comes across a nest to keep their distance.

The Forest Preserve never publicly discloses nesting locations in order to protect the species.