Florida Bald Eagle Season Underway Through May 15
Oct. 1 marked the official start of nesting season for bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in Florida, though the birds typically begin returning to their nests in late August or early September.
SCCF staff and a dedicated team of volunteers work together to monitor 10 nesting pairs on North Captiva, Captiva, Sanibel, and just off-island. SCCF coordinates with Audubon Florida’s EagleWatch program for data collection and entry. EagleWatch tracks active nest locations and possible disturbances or threats to nesting activities for about 40% of Florida’s nesting bald eagles.
Despite Hurricane Ian destroying every bald eagle nest that SCCF monitors last year, nine of 10 pairs were able to rebuild their nests before the nesting season was over, and nine chicks were fledged.
“They’re already busy repairing and rebuilding their nests this season, and the one pair that did not opt to rebuild last year was recently spotted constructing a new nest structure,” said SCCF Shorebird Biologist Audrey Albrecht. “We’re hopeful that this pair and all the others will be successful this year.”
Like bald eagles, many humans on Sanibel and Captiva are still rebuilding from last year’s devastation, and Albrecht said a lot of questions have come up about what kind of construction can occur near eagle nests.
Although bald eagles are no longer a listed under the Endangered Species Act, they are still protected by both state and federal laws, including the Florida Eagle Rule, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
Construction activities should not take place within 660 feet of an active nest.
Homeowners and contractors can determine if their property is within the 660-foot buffer of an active bald eagle nest by viewing Audubon’s EagleWatch map with buffers.
Learn about obtaining permits for work around bald eagle nests.
If you have any questions regarding eagles or want to share your eagle observations or photos, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.