LAFAYETTE TWP. — Eagle spotters did not have to hike far from at Chippewa Lake’s Krabill Shelter to see the iconic symbol of America flying overhead during a guided hike with Medina County Park District naturalist Natalie Moore on Sunday afternoon.
“The eagles we have here tend to stick around, they have been established here for a few years, there is abundant food, there is usually open water,” Moore said to the group of about 15 hikers. “We are getting to that time of year where birds that are going to migrate will have, so there are hawks that have already moved out of the area; if there are eagles that are going to move out they have already.”
After spotting a bald eagle just steps away from the shelter, Moore led the hikers toward Chippewa Lake, trekking down a short grass trail, colorful leaves of orange, yellow and red lining the route.
Moore said the lake, which was purchased by the park district in 2007, is one of the largest inland lakes in the state that is not manmade.
“There are lots of big lakes in Ohio but they are made by people, (the) Civilian Conservation Corps,” Moore said. “This one is made by glaciers, which is kind of cool.”
“So roughly 14,000 years ago nature made our lake,” Moore added.
Longtime Medina County Park District volunteer Jim Dull of Wadsworth brought his grandson Spencer, 10, to enjoy the hike.
“The parks, open land and things like that are just fantastic, you learn so much about nature all the time,” Dull said.
Dull said he began volunteering with the park district after relocating to Wadsworth in 1972 after four years of military service.
“Every time we come out here we learn something,” he said.
Spencer said he has participated in the parks’ Young Naturalist programming, and has been lucky enough to have seen multiple bald eagles near the Krabill Shelter.
While hikers were not able to make their way down to the lake due to high waters from the recent rainfall, they did learn about the birds’ tendencies.
Moore said that rather than laying several eggs as is customary for several species of birds, an eagle typically lays one to three eggs annually.
“They also start earlier, they are one of our first birds to lay eggs,” Moore said.
The time of year when eagles begin their courtship and nesting behavior varies based on the conditions surrounding the birds.
“In the southern United States they start courtship and nest behavior in November, and up in Alaska it can be as late as April, so it really depends on the weather and conditions that the eagle is surrounded by,” Moore said. “Here, I think January is often when we start to see courtship behavior.”
Moore said that while the birds will “fight to the death” with each other, they are not particularly aggressive with other animals.
“They are not really aggressive but they are sneaky … they are opportunistic,” Moore said. “That is why Ben Franklin didn’t want them to be our national bird.”