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 Wanahoo Eagles

History of the Lake Wanahoo Bald Eagle Nest

Flickr Photo Gallery of Nesting Eagles at Wanahoo

A pair of Bald Eagles built their nest at Lake Wanahoo in 2011.  The pair has used the nest every year since.   The nest is located in a large, dead cottonwood tree that is in a group of trees in the lake.  This group of trees is immediately east of the park’s only boat ramp.   This nesting pair has been successful each year, producing two fledgling in 2011 and 2012. Below is a timeline of the Lake Wanahoo Bald Eagle nest. Annual Cycle of a Bald Eagle
  • 2010 - Lake Wanahoo was filled and construction of Dam was completed
  • Jan. 2011  – The Lake Wanahoo Bald Eagle nest was constructed
  • Mar. 2011  – Adult eagle siting on nest incubating eggs
  • Apr. 2011  – Two chicks observed in nest
  • Mar. 2012  – Adult eagle siting on nest incubating eggs
  • Apr. 2012  – Lake Wanahoo State Recreation Area open to public
                     – One chick observed in nest
  • Jul.  2012  – Two fledglings observed
  • Jan. 2013  – Adult eagles observed in the area
  • Mar. 2013 – Adult eagle siting on nest incubating eggs

Lake Wanahoo Bald Eagle Protection and Exclusion Zone

An exclusion zone has been placed around the nest to protect Lake Wanahoo’s nesting Bald Eagles. The area within the exclusion zone is closed to everyone from 1 December to 15 July. Bald Eagles are particularly sensitive to disturbances during the early portions of the breeding season when they are courting, building and maintaining their nest, and laying eggs.
Exclusion Zone Map

The Bald Eagle is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). The BGEPA is a federal law that was signed in 1940 and prohibits anyone from “taking” bald and golden eagles, including their nests, eggs, or parts. “Taking” includes killing, harming, or disturbing Bald Eagles.  Entering the exclusion zone from 1 December to 15 July may disturb the nesting eagles and may be a violation of the BGEPA. Violating the act can result in a fines and/or imprisonment for up to a year. Exclusion Zone Sign

The Lake Wanahoo eagle nest offers excellent viewing opportunities that are outside of the exclusion zone. The nest can be seen from several areas within the state recreation area and the eagles can be easily viewed with binoculars or a spotting scope.


  • How long have Bald Eagles been nesting at Lake Wanahoo?  Bald Eagles have been nesting at Lake Wanahoo since 2011 and successful produced 2 fledglings in 2011 and 2012.
  • Do Bald Eagles build a new nest every year?  No, Bald Eagles will often use the same nest year after year.
  • Are Bald Eagles a threatened or endangered species?  No. Bald Eagles were first listed as a federally endangered species in 1973 and in 1995 the Bald Eagle was relisted as a federally threatened species. In 2007 the Bald Eagle was formally removed from the federal endangered and threatened species list and in 2008 the species was removed from Nebraska’s threatened species list.
  • How big is the exclusion zone around the Lake Wanahoo Bald Eagle nest?  The exclusion zone is a small 23 acre area that only covers about 3% of the lake.
  • Is the exclusion zone around the Lake Wanahoo eagle nest closed year round?  No, this area is only closed from 1 December to 15 July and is open during the remainder of the year.
  • How many eggs do Bald Eagles lay?  Bald Eagles typically lay 1 to 3 eggs per year.
  • How long do Bald Eagles live?  Bald Eagles can live as long as 28 years in the wild and up to 34 years in captivity.
  • How big is a Bald Eagle nest?  A typical Bald Eagle nest ranges from 1.5 to 1.8 meters wide and 0.7 to 1.2 meters tall.
  • How old are Bald Eagles when then molt into their adult plumage with the white head and tail and are able to nest and raise young?  About 5 years old.
  • What do immature Bald Eagles do during the breeding season?  Immature Bald Eagles wander and move around more than adults. Some immature birds will build practice nests during the breeding season but do not actually lay eggs.
  •  How did the Bald Eagle become endangered?  Habitat destruction, illegal shooting, and contamination of the Bald Eagles food resources all contributed to declines in Bald Eagle populations. The extensive use of the chemical pesticide DDT from 1940 to 1970 cause Bald Eagle populations to decline substantially. DDT caused eggshells to become so thin that they would easily break. By the mid1960s Bald Eagle population declines ranged from 50 percent to 100 percent in some areas.  DDT was banned from use in the early 1970s and the Bald Eagle was listed as an endangered species in 1973.
  • How can you tell the difference between male and female Bald Eagles?  Male and female Bald Eagles are similar but females are larger than males.
  • What is the primary law protecting the Bald Eagle?  Protection of the Bald eagle and its habitat are now under the jurisdiction of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA). Penalties can be as high as $100,000 for individuals and $200,000 for organizations. Eagles are not allowed to be “disturbed” under the BGEPA.
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