Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles by Jaime Hall
Norfolk Botanical Gardens is home to a very popular eagle’s nest. Cams were installed in the nest to provide education to people all over the world. Next to the Botanical Gardens is the Norfolk International Airport. The airport shares property with the Botanical Gardens due to an expansion by the airport onto the gardens property. The two eagles built a nest on the airport property. In 2002 the male was struck by an airplane and killed. Due to the strike, the airport got permission to remove the nest in hopes the female eagle would move into the gardens and make it her new home. In 2003 she did just that. Since 2003 (19) eaglets have hatched and (15) successfully fledged from the nest. Last year the female eagle was struck and killed by an airplane landing at the airport. This left her new mate residing in the garden looking for a new female to start the cycle all over again. Due to the strike the Norfolk airport is requesting for permission to remove the nest from the gardens stating it is a safety risk to humans and eagles..
I visited the nest and gardens just recently. The airport is surrounded by woods and water. Eagles are not the vast majority in the area. There are so many other birds that pose a bigger threat to the airport than the eagles. The runway ends in front of a body of water. It seems to me that gulls and other water fouls pose more of a risk. Since 1990 the airport reported 505 strikes. Of those (505) strikes, (4) were reported to be eagles. Of those (4), (2) were struck by planes and (2) were found dead near/on the runway with no strike reported. So why are these eagles being singled out? Is this political? If the nest is removed, what’s to stop the eagles from rebuilding near the airport again? If they do, what’s to stop one from getting hit by a plane? In this case the politicians can say, we tried, we removed the nest. But if they don’t it could fall back on them that they failed to take action.
Last year when the female was killed her (3) eaglets were removed and taken to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. WCV raised the eaglets and all (3) successfully fledged. This terrible tragedy brought a tremendous amount of money into Virginia. People from all over the world donated money to WCV for the eaglets and to get a cam up and running to watch these beautiful creatures. Money was donated to the gardens. The gardens also received money for a beautiful statue in memory of the female eagle. This year the garden is holding Eagle Fest on May 5. During this they will educate you even more on these magnificent birds. People from around the world will be showing up in VA for this festival. Virginia, the gardens and yes, the Norfolk Airport will be making a tremendous amount of money because (2) eagles choose to make the Botanical Gardens their home. Now the airport who will also be making money from that event are trying to force them out.
The male remains at the gardens; this is his territory it’s a slim chance that he will not try to rebuild in the same area he has called home for 9 years now. Reese Lukei is a biologist that deals with the Botanical Gardens eagles. He stated that he feels the male will not leave. That he will more than likely try to remain in the gardens. The eagles are going to feed at the same places. More and more eagles come every year. The gardens are a perfect habitat for them.
Birds are dislocated in nature all of the time and start again. That doesn’t mean they don’t suffer great losses from it. How many times will they continue to try to force the eagles away from their home?.
Please see links below with more information:
Norfolk Botanical Gardens: http://www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/home
Eagles nest history: http://www.norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/e-community/eagle-cam/eagle-nest-history
FAA Strike report
Search the database
Select Airport, Choose Norfolk International, hit submit
Dates: 4/26/11, 4/12/11, 7/16/05, 12/25/02
Nest removal discussions
Reese Lukei Blog
Some similar situations with airports:
If you agree and want to show your support, please sign our petition