Environment
2:29 pm
Mon July 11, 2011

Number of bald eagles in Michigan rising

The number of bald eagles in Michigan has risen to 700 eagle pairs, up 70 from last year, according to the Associated Press.

Here's more from the AP article (care of the Chicago Tribune):

Michigan's population of bald eagles has risen, leaving the birds once listed as an endangered species to search out good places to live, according to wildlife officials.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates there are more than 700 eagle pairs in the state, The Detroit News reported Monday. That's up from 630 pairs in 2010, and up from 85 in 1970.

Matthew Stuber, a biologist with the Fish and Wildlife Service, said eagles typically live miles apart but will nest closer together if the habitat is good enough.

"If eagles are moving into these places, it probably means that a lot of the good places are taken," Stuber said.

Bald eagles have recently found homes near power plants, including DTE Energy Co.'s Monroe and Fermi 2 facilities in Monroe County. The utility recently held a contest to name four bald eagle chicks, and the winners were Spirit, Freedom, Honor and Grace.

The population of bald eagles plummeted in the 1950s mainly because of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in the 1970s. In 2007, the federal government took the American bald eagle off the threatened species list. The bird had been reclassified from endangered in 1995.

Seeing the news, we posted a couple of questions on Facebook: Have you spotted any recently? Where did you see them? 

David Roof said, "I saw two in a field near Alpena and often see one at Alpena County's Beaver Lake."

Charlene Luck said, "We have! At Horseshoe Lake for the past week."

Skye-Matthews Savage had this close encounter:

We saw one while swimming at Sessions Lake State Rec Area (Ionia) and watched one for 30 minutes, wading in the shallows, right on the beach about 40 feet from all the other swimmers! I never realized how BIG they are, since you almost never see them with any object close by to compare them to.

Other users mentioned spotting them near Muskegon Lake, the Mackinac Bridge, Snug Harbor, and along the Platte River.

Personally, my favorite response was Jon Martin's:

"all the time...UP"

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom