SIB “Bird of the Week” – Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle – C Moore

Bald Eagle – Haliaeetus leucocephalus
Length:  31″; Wingspan: 80″; Weight: 152 oz.

Seabrook Island residents have a special bond with the Bald Eagle. For more than ten years, Seabrookers have followed our Bald Eagles as they nested, reared their young, lost nests due to tree age and storms, and then once again found new locations to nest. On May 7, 2020, we published “A Story of Seabrook Island Bald Eagles” written by George Haskins, an excellent history of our eagles through the date it was published.

It was in April, 2020, when Seabrook Island experienced an EF-1 Tornado (see story) and the nest on Crooked Oaks #3 came down. Since that time, most of us have wondered where did our Bald Eagles chose to nest? We knew of nests on Kiawah and Cassique, but we could never confirm a nest on Seabrook Island until earlier this month, when a few detectives put the pieces together!

Bald Eagle flight path – Jean Phillips

First, we received a google map image from SIB member Melodie Murphy created by Jean Phillips, of a location where an adult Bald Eagle was flying carrying nest materials above Ocean Winds golf course between holes 4 & 5. We put this image out to the SIB Google Groups and on our Social Media pages, and soon heard from SIB member Lynn Miner:

“I have an Eagle taking over an Osprey nest next to my house on The Haul Over. I hadn’t seen the Osprey last year sadly, then a few months ago, Madam Eagle was flying up and down The Haul Over with huge sticks, doing a rebuild/refresh on the nest. I do see her up there moving around but not every day and she’s quiet (unlike missy Osprey). I do see an Eagle on a dead tree on Marsh Hen and of course just assume she’s mine. Not sure about eggs but that might be why she could be low and quiet in the nest.”

We sent word out about the location on The Haul Over (see map to the right).

Bald Eagle Nest on The Haul Over – photo by Melodie Murphy

SIB members Melodie Murphy and Tori Langen got a “tour” from Lynn. They agreed it definitely looked like the next of a Bald Eagle. Very tall tree, impossible to see into the nest. However, they believed a Bald Eagle was sitting in the nest because it began vocalizing when a Vulture flew too close! Lynn said that earlier in the day an Eagle had been visible on the sides of the nest. There is a somewhat dead tree “two wing flaps” away on Marsh Hen that Lynn says often houses an Eagle….perhaps the mate?  Melodie was able to take a photo of the nest.

And finally, Glen Cox was able to take a beautiful photo while an adult sat up on the nest!

Bald Eagle on nest at The Haul Over – Glen Cox

Thank you to all our SIB Detectives for solving the “Where is the Bald Eagle Nest Mystery!” You can look for the nest in a tree on the empty lot to the left of 2385 The Haulover. You can also look for the Bald Eagles resting in a tree on the right side of Marsh Hen Dr, just on the other side of Seabrook Island Road from The Haul Over.

To learn more about Bald Eagles, click “Read More Now”.

Few sounds symbolize American patriotism like the piercing shrill of a Bald Eagle. But just like George Washington and his cherry tree, that majestic call … is a myth. The screech associated with the bald eagle, in fact, belongs to a different bird.  Bird expert Connie Stanger blames Hollywood. You know the scene: “You’ve got John Wayne riding through the sunset and you hear the jingle of spurs and often that piercing loud cry.”

It’s a cry that’s synonymous with America’s national bird. But there’s a problem says Stanger, who works at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise. If you were to look up at the bird making that sound in real life you wouldn’t see a bald eagle. “They dub over it with a Red-tailed Hawk’s cry,” Stanger says. And the reason? … “Unfortunately for the bald eagle, it has like a little cackling type of a laugh that’s not really very impressive for the bird,” Stanger explains.

The Bald Eagle has a body length of 28 to 40 inches. Typical wingspan is between 6 to 7.5 feet and they normally weigh between 6.5 and 14 pounds. Females are about 25% larger than males, averaging about 12 pounds, against the males’ average weight of 9.0 pounds.

The common name, “Bald Eagle” refers to the older meaning of the word, “white headed”. Males and females have identical plumage, dark brown with a white head and tail. Immature Bald Eagles are solid brown and gain more white over the next four years when they finally reach maturity with the white head and tail. The beak is large and hooked.

Bald Eagles typically stay mated for life (usually 20 years or so) and continue to visit the nest site and add to it each year. The Bald Eagle builds the largest nest of any bird. Record nests have been used for more than 30 years and have reached masses of two or more tons. Eagles first breed at 4-5 years of age. Courtship and nest building begins in late September or early October.

Eggs are laid in December/February. The young hatch after 34-36 days of incubation. Young are fed bite-sized pieces of dead animals (fish, birds) or carrion for the first three weeks or so, then whole fish, reptiles, birds, and small mammals are brought to the nest for the young to tear apart on their own.

Young fly at 10-12 weeks of age but often continue to return to the nest for several weeks to roost and rest. Eventually the parents leave them on their own and they become completely independent before their first winter.

Chosen as an American symbol in 1782, the Bald Eagle was nearly pushed to extinction by pesticides, habitat loss and indiscriminate hunting over the next one hundred years. Thanks to federal legislation, including the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, Bald Eagles have made a complete recovery and were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.

Today, Bald Eagles are found in every state except Hawaii. The United States Bald Eagle population is estimated by the Audubon Society to have doubled from 1995 to 2015 to approximately 30,000 birds.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article originally submitted by:  Charles Moore
Updated by: Nancy Brown
Photographs provided by:  Glen Cox, Charles Moore & Melodie Murphy

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Author: sibirders

SEABROOK ISLAND BIRDERS / “watching, learning, protecting” Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) are residents, renters and guests of Seabrook Island, SC who have an interest in learning, protecting and providing for the well-being of the incredible variety of birds that inhabit Seabrook Island throughout the year.

One thought on “SIB “Bird of the Week” – Bald Eagle”

  1. HOORAY, the Bald Eagle mystery has been solved. A little history. I believe this is their fourth nesting location on Seabrook. The first was in a tree right of the 5th tee of the Ocean Winds course and was built at the same time the Island was embarked on the Horizon Plan (two major building projects at the same time — one by humans and one by our beloved wildlife). Subsequently, that nest was destroyed — presumably by some irritated Ospreys, but that’s only speculation. The second site was a tall pine between the green of the 3rd hole on Ocean Winds and the lagoon along the 3rd fairway of Crooked Oaks. That pine later died and, after a year or so of needle-less exposure, the birds sought a new spot. They chose To remodel an old Osprey site near to and left of the tee boxes of Crooked’s 3rd hole. This is the site which was damaged by the tornado. Members of Seabrook Island Birders saw Bald Eagles in the area after that, but had been unable to locate where they were camped. Their secret has been revealed.

    George Haskins (regretfully, a former Seabrooker, but, thankfully, a life member of SIB)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: