Bald Eagles Nesting in Alameda

Rick Lewis  -- The two adult Bald Eagles that are building a nest on Bay Farm Island survey their surroundings from a eucalyptus tree.
Rick Lewis -- The two adult Bald Eagles that are building a nest on Bay Farm Island survey their surroundings from a eucalyptus tree.

Bald Eagles Nesting in Alameda

When the news came out that there were nesting Bald Eagles in Milpitas, the birding community was astounded and concerned. How could these majestic birds successfully breed, hunt, and live in a residential area just ten miles from the hubbub of San Jose? The eagles have been there for six years.

Now, we have a nesting pair of Bald Eagles here in Alameda! Simply wonderful news and a testament to our healthy environment providing for our national emblem. The many organizations in the Bay Area committed to conservation and stewardship deserve recognition for their unstinting work in educating about and promoting our local wildlife and wild areas. Golden Gate Audubon Society (GGAS), Friends of the Alameda Wildlife Reserve (FAWR), the Sierra Club, Save the Bay, Bay Nature, and many others, too numerous to name, have highlighted issues critical to maintaining a healthy and vibrant environment. Humans and wildlife benefit from these endeavors; the beauty of the Bay Area is due in part to the efforts of the individuals in these organizations.

In early December 2022, people noticed Bald Eagles around Alameda. During the recent king tide at Martin Luther King Regional Park/Arrowhead Marsh (MLK) some of the birders called out a Bald Eagle off in the distance. I turned and saw the eagle harassing ducks before it flew off toward Alameda. Some days later I set out to find any Bald Eagles in the area. After several hours with no sighting, I decided to head home. Lo and behold — a Bald Eagle flew directly overhead and immediately went into a nest! Wow! It is difficult to describe the initial excitement. I have been watching the nest every day since, sometimes just an hour or two, other days for 3 to 4 hours. The Eagles have been very active gathering sticks for the nest and delighting those who have witnessed their excursions.

The critical issue now is the safety and well-being of the eagles. Precautions must be followed, such as no drones, no approaching birds when they are on the ground, and no crowds near the nesting site. The nest is located in a large eucalyptus on the northern end of the Corica Golf Course. While the birds don’t seem to pay attention to golfers moving around the course, Bald Eagles elsewhere have clearly been bothered by people getting too close. These Bald Eagles can be seen throughout Alameda and from MLK, which are safer locations than a golf course is for non-golfers looking for a bird, even a Bald Eagle.

Nest building, incubation, and fledging will last 5 to 6 months, into the middle or end of June. The adults incubate the eggs for 35 days and feed the chicks until they fledge in 8-14 weeks. They then teach the juvenile birds how to hunt. Bald Eagles generally eat ducks, fish, and small mammals. When I see bald eagles feeding at Merced National Wildlife Refuge, they are eating ducks, coot, and geese.

So, keep looking for the Eagles. We are in for some stimulating days ahead!!!