MoDOT employees discovered a bald eagle nest with two adult birds and two nestlings along the proposed new alignment for U.S. Route 54 in Camden and Miller counties.
MoDOT environmental specialists worked closely with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation determined that the best course of action would be to wait for the eagles to leave the nest, and then remove it before the eagles returned the following winter to start the nesting process again.
The bald eagle nest was located about 50 ft. into the trees. A crane is brought in to reach it. The crew gathers before sunrise and removal takes about an hour. Branches around the nest needed to be cut back to ease removal.
MoDOT and the Department of Conservation collected feathers from the nest (removed under permit) for use in a genetic fingerprinting study. The DNA samples recovered from the feathers can be compare with feathers that may be collected from any new nests indentifed in mid-Missouri.
By removing the existing nest, the eagles can return to the lake area, but would build a new nest away from all the new development. The nest was donated to the Department of Conservation, which intends to develop a display for educational purposes. A brief article, “MoDOT Helps Ensure the Eagle has Landed,” was presented in MoDOT’s statewide newsletter, Connections.
Eagles are the largest raptors in Missouri. Both the bald eagle and the golden eagle can be observed in Missouri. Bald eagles are much more common than golden eagles. The adult bald eagle's white head and tail are easily identified, but immature bald eagles are dark-colored during their first three or four years – as are both adult and immature goldens. Additional information on the bald eagle is provided in the Missouri Department of Conservation in their document “The Bald Eagle in Missouri.”