Eagles nest attracts attention in Algiers

In the New Orleans west bank community of Algiers, folks are looking to the sky for inspiration and the chance to see a bald eagle close up in their neighborhood.

NEW ORLEANS -- It's been said that if you associate with eagles, you will learn how to soar to great heights.

In the New Orleans West Bank community of Algiers, folks are looking to the sky for inspiration and the chance to see a bald eagle close up in their neighborhood.

"It's absolutely thrilling to see urban eagles right here in Algiers. Everyone stops every day to look at them," said Mary Finney who lives a few blocks from the eagles nest. "There's always two or three people. Some times there's professional photographers with the big lenses, trying to get a shots of them."

Photographers set up along Wall Boulevard near General DeGaulle Boulevard, snapping pictures of the eagles raising their young in a giant nest not far from the sprawling Behrman Park.

"I'm kind of blow away," said nature photographer Skeeter Perkins from Marrero. "It's awesome. It's the first one I've seen in a subdivision like area."

State ornithologist Michael Seymour said nesting eagles in urban areas of Louisiana are pretty rare.

"What we're seeing, as more and more birds are entering into the population through successful nesting, they are having to branch out and find additional places to nest," said Seymour. "For whatever reason they decided that those isolated cypress trees in these urban areas are good for nesting."

Seymour got an aerial view of the Algiers nest a couple of weeks ago.

"At the time that we flew over it, there was a bird that looked like it was incubating eggs or maybe even brooding chicks," said Seymour. "It was kind of hard to tell. But, it was clearly an active nest."

State and federal wildlife officials put up a fence around the Algiers eagles nest. They want residents and onlookers to know if they get too close to the nest, they could possibly harm the adult eagles and the baby birds.

"We really try to urge people to stay back several hundred feet from that nest tree during nesting season," said Seymour. "If people could maintain a distance of 600 feet from the nest tree, that would be great."

The eagles nest stopped construction of a new city soccer complex named for longtime NORD coach Dewey Joseph Heitmeier, father of state Senator David Heitmeier, D-Algiers.

"It's protected," said Heitmeier. "That is the law. We're going to abide by the law. We just need to find a way to coexist with the eagles and we plan on doing that."

The city is looking for a new location for the soccer complex.

"We are looking for alternative sites right now," said Heitmeier. "We're testing some land and we want to move forward with the soccer stadium and we want to build it as soon as we can."

As for the eagles, get a good look while you can.

This month, most of the young will leave the nest, and soon thereafter most eagles will leave the state.

They are expected to return in October.


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