Typically, eagle nests are found next to a stream or lake. The nest at Berry is adjacent to a parking lot. It’s probably less than a mile away from the Oostanaula River and maybe just a little further to the old Florida Rock quarry off Redmond Circle. It’s a tad further to the Lavender Mountain reservoir and about seven miles, as the eagle flies, from the lakes at the Rocky Mountain hydroelectric plant in Texas Valley.
Jim Ozier, the non-game program director for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the one man who has seen virtually every known eagle nest in Georgia, said he wouldn’t call the Berry nest a marginal location. “Ten years ago I would have said it would be much more unusual,” Ozier said. “As the population has been growing they seem to be using less than the ideal, if I could envision what they were looking for.”
Ozier calls Northwest Georgia the last frontier for bald eagle growth in Georgia.
“We are seeing more growth in the north, and maybe it’s just as other areas fill up they’re looking to expand into some place they may not have gone 10 years ago.”
Ozier conducts what is known as the Mid-Winter Eagle Survey every January, to identify nesting locations, and then again in March to determine how many young have been produced.
Ozier feels like the Berry eagles may be a relatively newly paired couple. “If there had been an established territory somewhere in that area I’m sure someone would have seen it and we would have known about it,” Ozier said. “It’s not unusual for them to fail (breeding) that first year. They might have made a half-hearted attempt, that’s what I might have called last year. They didn’t really have their act together and got a really late start. I think this year maybe they’ll be on target.”
The eagle watchers should know soon. Other bald eagles on Lake Allatoona and Weiss Lake have produced young around Christmas. Allowing for the 35-day incubation period, that means if the Berry pair is successful, the female should drops eggs any day now.