Bald is Beautiful LbNA # 54291
|Found By||Astro D |
|Last Update||Apr 7 2013 |
The most visible bald eagle nest in Texas is conveniently located about 130 yards off State Highway 29, eight miles east of the charming Hill Country town of LLano. It lies between the highway and the Llano River. From about November through the end of March, the nest contains a pair of large chicks. Construction on this nest began in 2004 after a tree holding a previous nest collapsed. There’s a long history of nesting bald eagles along the Llano River. Bald eagles are not an uncommon sight in Texas, particularly around lakes and streams where they feed primarily on fish and waterfowl during winter months. What makes the Llano nest site a magnet for wildlife watchers is that the nest is a cinch deal. Once the chicks hatch, they will be there until they learn to fly. The two parent birds will come and go from the nest as they bring food to their rapidly growing offspring. Most Texas eagle watching occurs at lakes like Texoma, Fork and Fairfield, where bald eagles are common. The last TP&W eagle survey, conducted in late winter 2005, counted 185 of the stately birds. Ortego said you might spot an eagle on any sizable lake in the state. Seeing an eagle on a large lake involves a degree of luck, however. Birding enthusiasts on the bank may get a glimpse of distant birds or they may need a boat. While the odds are good that you will see eagles on these lakes, there are no guarantees. Not so with the nest site. If you're driving from Burnet toward Llano, the nest is near the Llano river, six miles west of the County Road 1431 intersection. The nest was first noticed by travelers soon after if was built in 2004. So many people slowed or stopped beside the highway to watch and photograph the birds that the highway department created a parking area to reduce the traffic hazard. When the weather was nice on a weekend, there might be 1,000 people a day stopping to look at the birds. Eagles use the same nests year after year, adding material annually. A well-established bald eagle nest may weigh more than a ton. The sheer weight eventually damages the host tree. The Llano nest is in a pecan tree, supported by major limbs rather than the sturdier tree trunk. The nest may last for several years or it could collapse in the next high wind, and the eagles could relocate to a less visible nesting site. Eagles live as long as 30 years. The birds using this nest are excellent parents. Between 2004 and the time this letterbox was placed, they raised eight chicks. Until this year, the Llano eagles had help from another adult bird. Schmidt said the third eagle was believed to be an adult female that helped the parents feed their offspring. Having three adults tending a single nest is highly unusual. The third adult eagle did not show up in 2009, however, and there's no explanation for why she helped raise four sets of chicks. If you go to see the eagles, you’ll need a good pair of binoculars and if you want to photograph them, a lens of 300mm is recommended. The Llano eagles are accustomed to being viewed by crowds, but the nest is located on private property. It is illegal to cross the fence to approach the nest.
Directions: From Llano, drive east on Hwy. 29 for approximately 8 miles and look for the parking area on the right side next to a chain-link fence. When the birds are there, you won’t have any trouble spotting the right tree because of the huge nest. After the trees leaf out, the nest is hard to see unless you know exactly where to look. Park by the fence.
To the box: If you go in the late spring or summer, the birds will have migrated north and you’re probably just there for the letterbox. In that case, drive to the east end of the parking area and park. Follow the chain-link fence to its end. Directly behind it is a barbed wire fence and a cedar post that supports it. The box has a wire hook and is hanging on the fence beside the post. Sadly, a lot of people have used this convenient pull-over as a trash dumping site, so shake your head and say a prayer for those folks. They could use it. Be sure to hang the box back as you found it and, if the birds are there, people will probably be stopping by to see them, so be stealthy about retrieving and replacing the box. Thanks.