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Searching for the Bald Eagle

by ARLnow.com February 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm 4,252 11 Comments

Regular readers of this site may be familiar with these photos of a nesting bald eagle, taken near Spout Run by Flickr pool contributor Philliefan99.

The photos sparked a dialogue in the comments about where exactly the photo was taken. That was enough for reader Alan H. to decide to take his son on an adventure to find the nest Sunday afternoon.

He emailed us with the photo above and the story below.

A few weeks ago I saw a bald eagle next to the Mt Vernon trail by Memorial bridge and thought – “I wonder if there is a nest nearby?” Shortly thereafter ARLnow posted the picture of the eagle nest and a commentator chimed in on approximately where it was located.

This afternoon, under a warm and sunny sky, I took my five year old son on an adventure to find the nest (the bald eagle is his favorite animal). Given the nest approximate location we tried Dawson Terrace park. Sure enough, about 50 yards down the trail at the back of the park we saw the nest. A little further exploration found the place where your photographer probably took the shots. Using our binoculars my son actually caught a glimpse of the bald eagle – most likely sitting on a clutch of eggs – and we saw one of the eagles fly into the nest. Needless to say, my son was hopping with excitement and it was the highlight of his (and my) day. We will be going back regularly to check on the progress of the eggs and hatchlings through the spring and summer.

So thanks for a great local news site – and for inspiring my five year old son!

  • charlie

    PLEASE PLEASE
    do not disturb the Eagles.
    THis is not the only next in Arlington. There are several dozen nests between Woodrow Wilson Bridge, FOur Mile Run, Spout Run, Turkey Run, etc. etc.

    Do not tell everyone. They need to be enjoyed from a great distance.

    of course they might help with the weak or excess dog population:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yz7FFlFy8eM

    • Pope Lando

      There aren’t “dozens” of nests in Arlington — eagles are territorial and need about a mile or two distance between themselves to be “comfortable.” And don’t worry about the Spout Run eagles — they cannot be disturbed from Fort Bennett Park, as noted in the account above.

  • Donna

    On Thursday last week, I was getting onto the GW Parkway from Spout Run and noticed a man with a large lens standing on the shoulder/hill/woods on the right side eyeing up something across the parkway. I looked left and sure enough there was a huge nest high up in the trees. FANTASTIC!

  • Pope Lando

    The egg(s) will hatch about 30-35 days after they were laid (in this case, in the last couple of weeks), so look for signs of eaglets (parents feeding them) by about late-March.

  • Harkin

    Eagles have rebounded to the point they’re really not uncommon anymore – you can find them nesting pretty much all the way up and down the Potomac. There are multiple nests that can be seen pretty easily between Old Town and Mt. Vernon along the GW Parkway/Mt. Vernon Trail.

    • local

      Yes, they’ve recovered, but most you see still aren’t likely Bald Eagles though. Most easily-seen nests along the river are probably Ospreys. They can look alot like Bald Eagles and have similar nests.

      • Pope Lando

        True, but there are still a few notable sites that can be seen from a safe distance:

        -GW Parkway @ Spout Run (Arlington)
        -GW Parkway @ Belle Haven Country Club (status uncertain) (Alexandria, just south of Old Town)
        -GW Parkway near Morningside Drive (Alexandria near Pipeline Cove)
        -Fort Hunt Park (Alexandria, just north of Mt. Vernon)

  • local

    P.S. I looked it up – the most recent survey shows about 600 bald eagle nesting pairs in Virginia. Pretty cool.

  • Josh S

    Sweet story. I’m glad your son had such a good time.

  • Sam M

    I noticed as the leaves fell for winter that the spout run eagles nes appeared to have fallen apart, and I haven’t seen the eagles at all since the leaves fell. Have they moved on to another place?

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