Meet Al. He's a 2-month-old bald eagle living high up in a slash pine tree in Bradenton, the city immediately to the north of Sarasota. Apparently, his parents have been nesting here for at least the past three years.
This is home sweet home for the eagles. (The nest is in the tree third from the left.) Just 25 yards away is an 8-lane divided highway with all kinds of retail stores, offices and restaurants. Very urban surroundings. And, then, there's the dilapidated, vacant structure they live over. Not exactly where you would expect to find an eagle nest, is it? I learned about the nest (thanks to a friendly tip) because it was in the local news as a property rights vs. wildlife story. Here's the skinny: the City of Bradenton code enforcement division wants the property owner, who purchased the building in this condition, to clean up the eyesore. The owner wants to comply and, actually, would like to raze the structure. But….
…with our national bird having a young family in such close proximity there's a snag. Florida wildlife officials say the building is too close to the baby eagle to be razed. There needs to be at a least a 660 foot buffer between the nest and heavy construction machinery. Code enforcement was prepared to start fining the property owner $150 a day for noncompliance, but they all had a meeting of the minds due to the eaglet situation. From what I understand, they're going to wait for Al to grow up and leave the nest, then tear down the building. So, all's well!
By the way, the eagles knew what they were doing when they scouted this location for a home. While it's in a busy urban area, the Braden River is only about a mile or so away. It's quite scenic. But, more importantly, there's quality fishing for a bald eagle feeding a growing family. This photo, I believe, shows the female, who, I was told is rather skittish. Sure enough, she popped in at the nest just long enough to check on junior before taking off again (the photo I posted yesterday). She rested on a nearby branch -- and blended in amazingly well. I love it when a birding tip turns out this well!