Milwaukee County is now home to nesting bald eagles, completing the state map

Credit: Beth Berger Martin

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee County has been the only county in Wisconsin where no active bald eagle nests have been documented -- until now. As of spring 2022, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is happy to report an active bald eagle nest in the county. 

It gets better, because not only is there one active nesting pair of bald eagles in Milwaukee County, there are signs additional eagle pairs are eyeing up the county for their future territories as well. 

The DNR said it's received a number of reports of eagle pairs that are beginning to build nests, suggesting Milwaukee County may soon add to their tally of nesting bald eagles. 

Until now, Milwaukee was the only county in Wisconsin where no active nest was documented since 1972, when the use of the chemical DDT was banned. 

Photo by Beth Berger Martin

“People were so excited when we reported nesting eagles for the first time in Kenosha County in 2017 and then Walworth County in 2018. Naturally, we all wondered when the same would happen for Milwaukee County,” said Sharon Fandel, Wisconsin DNR Southeast Field Ecologist. “Thanks to a few ‘eagle-eyed’ citizen reports and collaboration with our partners at the County and Madison Audubon, we were able to confirm bald eagle’s actively nesting in Milwaukee County.

Take Care When Watching Nesting Bald Eagles

Nesting Bald Eagles are extremely sensitive to disturbance during the nesting season (February through June) when they are working to raise their young. According to federal law and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act:

  • Anyone observing, photographing, or present near a Bald Eagle nest must remain 300 feet or more away from the nest to prevent disturbance and avoid causing the eagles to abandon their nest.
  • Use of drones at nest sites are strictly prohibited, as they are considered extremely disruptive to the nesting pair.
  • Observers should avoid agitating or flushing the eagles from the nest, and minimize the use of flash photography. All of these precautions foster a safe environment for the eagles and eagle lovers.

The DNR says the best way for citizens to support Bald Eagles in Wisconsin is to help protect and preserve natural areas and green spaces near clean waterways, prevent disturbance at their nest sites, reduce sources of toxins like lead and water pollution in the environment, and participate in citizen science. Folks are encouraged to report suspected new nests to the Wisconsin DNR

Individuals are also invited to join Madison Audubon’s Bald Eagle Nest Watch in 2023 (program is full for 2022) to help monitor and document eagle nest activity.

Share this article: