Maine Bald Eagles

Keoka is fortunate to be home to bald eagles.  These creatures of habit are selective about food sources, perches, nocturnal roosts, and especially nests.

Maine’s bald eagles are primarily fish eaters at inland settings on the lakes and rivers. In coastal estuaries and (especially) offshore, they eat a more varied diet, adding seabirds and waterfowl. Eagles will perch along shorelines waiting for prey. Hunting flights are usually extended glides low over open water, trying to stay dry while catching a meal on the wing. If they get too wet, they will use their wings like oars and remain on the shore or a very low perch in order to dry out before attempting to fly again.

Although some leave the state, many bald eagles remain through the winter in Maine. Scavenging carrion becomes more prevalent as ice cover greatly limits food availability.

Stewardship of bald eagle nesting habitat by landowners has been solicited since 1972 in Maine. From 1980 to 2009, MDIFW applied Essential Habitat rules at eagle nests under the Maine Endangered Species Act. Land purchases and conservation easements now provide a lasting safety net for up to 400 eagle territories to safeguard recovery. An array of conservation organizations is integral to this strategy.

Generations of bald eagles will use the same nesting territory sequentially over decades. In fact, the same nest is often reused if its ever-enlarging size does not harm the tree. A Sagadahoc County nest found in 1963 measured 20 feet vertically; biologists conservatively estimated it had been in use for at least 60 years.

National management guidelines have been adopted to minimize disturbances of nesting eagles under the authority of a federal law, the Bald Eagle – Golden Eagle Protection Act. These are now the primary legal standard applicable to bald eagle nests in Maine.

Keoka Lake Association, PO Box 97 Waterford, ME  04088