Berry College students and professors search for bald eagles on campus

9:19 AM, Apr 12, 2012   |    comments
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ROME, Ga. -- The allure of the bald eagle is obvious.

"It's our national symbol," says Renee Carleton, assistant professor of biological science at Berry College.

Recently, teachers and students at Berry have often taken time to pass by the edge of a campus parking lot to see if they can spot a bald eagle.

Berry College is the site of the first documented bald eagle nest in Floyd County -- and the two bald eagles who live there.

Carleton recalls, "About six weeks ago, a student came and told me that he found a bald eagle nest on campus."

Since then, a pair of bald eagles have been seen in and around the nest, gliding in the air and brandishing branches as they build a nest high in a tree on campus.

"It just came out of nowhere," said Berry sophomore Levi Wood. "It'd be pretty cool to see it one day."

But the eagles don't always show up ... a reason why students like Wood aren't guaranteed to spot the eagles when they visit that parking lot edge.

Other birds have made the college their home for a while, from blue jays to the American robins. But bald eagles are rare, mainly because they have typically been a coastal bird.

Recent years have seen a rejuvenation for this once-endangered species. They have gradually come further and further inland, to the point where they have now reached a college campus more than 400 miles from the coast.

"To have a pair start nesting here is a bit unusual," says Carleton in an understatement. "We are really, really fortunate that this has happened.

Unfortunately, six weeks after their arrival, the bald eagles may not actually be around for much longer. According to Jim Ozier of Georgia's Department of Natural Resources, they haven't laid eggs and have left their nest a bit unfinished -- a sign that they might not be hanging around this spot.

"I think they've done all they're gonna do this year," Ozier said.

The good news? The nest remains, and, Ozier says, the eagles know it ... which means they could happily come back next nesting season and delight the folks at Berry College again.

To learn more about and support the research being done on bald eagles, check out the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' website.

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