'A kick in the stomach' | Wind knocks down White Rock bald eagles' nest – WFAA.com

DALLAS — A rare sighting that captivated a northeast Dallas neighborhood in recent weeks came to a sad end Tuesday.
The nest of two bald eagles on the east side of White Rock Lake fell when a branch broke in windy conditions around 4 p.m. Tuesday, city officials said.
Brett Johnson, the senior environmental coordinator and urban biologist for the Dallas parks department, said a big wind gust knocked down the nest’s branch, while the two eagles, a male and female, were in the nest. The eagles did not appear to be injured, but their nest, and multiple eggs, were destroyed.
“It was a little bit of a kick in the stomach,” Johnson said after learning the news Tuesday.
City and federal wildlife officials had been monitoring the eagles and their nest at Lake Highlands Park since October. Bald eagles are found year-round in Texas, though it is rare to spot a pair in the heart of Dallas.
Wednesday, the couple continued to circle above where their nest had rested and repeatedly called out. 
“What we’re hearing in those noises is probably some trauma,” Sam Kieschnick, an urban wildlife biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife said. 
Kieschnick said officials had concerns the nest would fall because it rested on a dead limb. 
“We get attached to these sort of things, and that’s an okay thing, but also recognize that nature is the thing that decides what works and what doesn’t,” he said. 
The nest had been a well-kept secret until recent weeks, as more and more people in the area figured out the location and tried to get a glimpse of the eagles, which are federally protected. Anyone who takes an eagle or any part of their nest could face penalties up to $100,000.
As a result, the city had taken extra steps to protect the eagles, including erecting temporary fencing near the parking lot and signs telling visitors to stay away from the nest.
But wildlife officials were also concerned about the tree itself and the surrounding trees in the park, Johnson said.
“We had some concerns early on,” Johnson said. “The trees around the area, a lot of them are older cottonwoods. They’re not in the best of conditions. The tree that it was in, a while back, some of our staff noticed that the limb right below was not in real good condition.”
Dozens of people came to the park Wednesday to view the pair of bald eagles after hearing the news the nest fell. 
“We were hugely disappointed, sad too, especially when we heard there were eggs in it,” Paul Hopwood said. 
He and his wife live in Midlothian and visited several lakes across the state searching for bald eagles but never found any until they heard about the couple in Dallas. It’s estimated there are around 160 pairs across the state.
“We were sad to hear it because it’s so rare to see eagles,” Hopwood said. “We saw them fly several times, very impressive.”
“I was just so disappointed. Everybody wanted them to survive,” Judy Reynolds, who came with a pair of binoculars, said. “I’m just wondering if they’re going to try again or if they wait until the next year.”
Kieschnick says the couple will likely leave the current area and move to another site around White Rock Lake in just a few days. He says the couple is young, around 3 or 4 years old, and will hopefully try to mate again next year. 
“We’re hoping that this is a learning experience, that it didn’t work in this spot, so they’ll find another spot,” he said. “There’s a lot of habitat around White Rock Lake, so we hope they stick around this area but that specific area.”
The city will keep the area around the nest closed while officials monitor the eagles’ activity, though Johnson said it’s somewhat late in the season for eagles to rebuild a nest.
Ultimately, it will be “up to the eagles” to decide where they go from here, Johnson said.
“It did present a lot of challenges for us. When this happened today, it was extremely unfortunate, but we’re going to move forward and see what the eagles will do.”
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