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Eagles begin rebuilding nest on tower

By Staff | Sep 23, 2015

As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm – or in this case, the communication tower.

A pair of bald eagles recently started rebuilding a nest on a tower off of Palm Tree Boulevard and Southeast 40th Street, adjacent to the defunct Golf Club. Insite Wireless Group, the tower’s owner, had received approval in March to remove the existing nest after nesting season to work on the tower.

“The company requested a permit to take the tower down and remove the eagle nest,” Gary Morse, spokesman with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said on Tuesday.

Insite had indicated that there was a serious issue with the tower.

“It was unsafe,” he said.

Prior to approving the permit, FWC’s bald eagle coordinator visited the site.

“The eagles had finished fledging, so a permit was issued for after the nesting season,” Morse said, noting that the nest was taken down. “Nesting season generally is late fall through mid-spring.”

However, no work had been conducted on the tower as of Tuesday. According to documents, Insite officials attributed the lag in construction on the tower to contract changes and client relations.

But the early return and nest-building voids the permit, which expires in December.

“Now they have permits that are not valid,” Morse said, noting that it only applies to Insite removing an inactive eagle nest. “They cannot repair the tower while there’s an active nest going on.”

“These eagles are involved in nest-building on the tower,” he added.

Officials have recommended that Insite revisit the nest in February to determine if the pair make a successful nesting attempt, which is likely. If so, Insite can then begin the permit process over again. By the time the juveniles fledge, the appropriate permits will be in place for inactive nest removal.

Insite did not immediately return a message seeking comment on Tuesday.

Pat Foote, who lives in the 700 block of Southeast 36th Street, first spotted one of the eagles on the tower approximately two to three weeks ago. Since then, the pair have been spotted regularly.

“The two of them were sitting on top of the tower,” she said.

“They’re just starting it,” Foote said. “They’re just starting to rebuild the nest.”

She was worried that the new nest would be removed.

“I don’t live on the golf course, I live off the golf course, but it’s a concern for us,” Foote said after learning the eagles were rebuilding. “Those are protected birds – you get a little concerned.”

In August, FWC opened an investigation after receiving a complaint that a tree with an active eagle’s nest had been removed from the golf course grounds, near Southeast 8th Avenue and 41st Street.

“There was no nest in the tree,” Morse said. “There hasn’t been since 2012.”

FWC, the city and independent biologists had well documented the ongoings at the nest.

“The eagles moved from the nest in the tree to the tower,” he said, adding that the pair were actually chased out by great horned owls. “From the beginning of the investigation, we had questions.”

Morse explained that due to the tree nest being documented as inactive for over two nesting seasons, the owner of the defunct golf course did not need a permit to remove the tree, which was removed.

As for going without a nest during the off-season, the impact on the birds can vary.

“It’s not necessary, but eagles do sometimes use that nest for perching – time perching varies greatly from pair to pair,” he said. “But it’s (the nest) not necessary for their survival.”

Eagles may even hunt from nearby the nest, but it’s primarily used for nesting and eaglet rearing.

“The assumption from the public is they use the nest all year-round,” Morse said.