Eagle Hatched At Jackson-Washington Forest At Vallonia

A pair of bald eagles recently had a successful nesting at Jackson-Washington State Forest with the hatching of a young eaglet that’s believed to be the first such occurrence at an Indiana state forest.

“It’s been kind of like watching a little kid grow up,” said Brad Schneck, property manager at Jackson-Washington. “We’ve kept an eye on it.”

What made the eaglet’s hatching in mid-June even more unusual is that it took place in close proximity to an active timber sale site.

“The return of the bald eagle is indicative of our success story,” said John Seifert, state forester and director of the DNR Division of Forestry. “It’s one of 116 species of concern that have found a home in the actively managed state forest system.”

At 17,000 acres, Jackson-Washington is the fifth largest of 13 state forests managed by the DNR.

Schneck noticed a nest developing in a large sycamore last fall while marking trees for a timber sale in the vicinity of the property’s Starve Hollow Lake.

“We were going by periodically, every other day, and it kept getting bigger and bigger,” he said. “Then we began seeing two eagles there this spring.”

Jackson-Washington staff immediately complied with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines by setting up a 600-foot buffer area to minimize nest disturbance and to ensure the timber sale site was outside the zone.

“We were greater than that,” he said. “We were 500 meters out, which is over 1,600 feet. Even the log yard was way outside the buffer.”

All that remained was to wait and watch.

“And lo and behold they had one successful chick,” said Schneck, who continued to monitor the young bird’s activity until it began to fly in recent weeks.

He said Starve Hollow Lake has become a popular eagle viewing area since a draw down of the lake two years ago to eliminate an overpopulation of gizzard shad and to do repair work on the spillway.