Building a Birdhouse for the Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are wild birds and do not go near areas where human activity exists. It is, therefore, difficult to build a birdhouse meant for these birds of prey. American eagles normally nest in trees and sometimes on cliffs with their nesting cycle lasting for some five months. The young often nest within 100 miles from the place where they hatched and remain in the same area as their parents.
It is extremely difficult to attract an eagle to your backyard as they normally stay away from humans. These wild birds prefer peaceful areas especially during the nesting period. However, some of these bald eagles are being bred in captivity in an effort to increase their population. And one technique used in raising eaglets and releasing them back to the wild is known as “hacking.”
It is during this hacking process that artificial nests prove beneficial to young eagles. These man-made nests are placed in high towers overlooking a body of water providing a safe haven for the eaglets as they grow until they are capable of flying by themselves. The young eagles are usually taken from their nests in the wild while still seven to eight weeks old. The artificial nests built for them are meant as release sites and are situated on top of towers about 35 to 40 feet tall to simulate being on a high tree. An ideal location is one where eagle population is very low because the young eagles as they mature and start breeding, tend to go back to the place where it first learned to fly.
The so-called hacking tower is a big cage where the eaglets are kept until they are old enough to fledge. The cage has metal slats on two or three of its sides to enable the eaglets to become familiar with the place. Apart from being located near a large body of water, the tower has windows that provide a good visibility of their food source and future nesting areas. The ideal dimension of a hacking cage should be 8’ x 8’ x 8’ wide enough to allow the young eagles to spread and flap their wings and exercise.
When they are about 12 weeks old, the eaglets are allowed to leave their nest although they are still provided food at the hacking tower for another month. Feeding and water mechanisms are in place so that humans can feed the eagles without being seen or heard. A one-way mirror is also an important feature of the nest for research purposes and to make sure that the eaglets are safe.