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Toronto birder says city’s first-ever bald eagle’s nest is at risk

Less than a week after news of Toronto’s first-ever documented bald eagles’ nest broke, a birder in the city says the site is already at risk due to the ongoing efforts to keep another species out of the area.

“People are celebrating the eagle story now, but I think what we’re going to have is a human-nature conflict,” said Steven McClellan, a Toronto-based bird watcher who photographed some of the first images of the nest last month.

Because the location of the eagle’s nest has not been disclosed publicly, CTV News Toronto is not revealing the type of deterrence “management” being carried out by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority nor the bird at which the efforts are aimed.

However, McClellan says, that work is disruptive to the pair of nesting bald eagles after seeing their adverse reaction first hand.

“The male eagle, who had been away, was pretty freaked out. [It] flew immediately back to the nest to check things out,” McClellan said.

Speaking with CTV News Toronto, McClellan called on the TRCA to adjust its current deterrence strategy in the area to better support the eagles during their nesting period.

For the TRCA’s part, they said that they will provide comment on the concerns once the nesting process is further along and when the eaglets have matured “making them more resilient to potential external disruptions.”

Bald eagles typically nest in large trees near a major lake or river, where they do most of their hunting, and are widely distributed throughout North America, according to the Ontario environment ministry. They’re known to feed on fish, but can easily catch ducks.

Last week, the TRCA confirmed the existence of a bald eagle nest in the city, a sight never-before seen in Toronto. The group has not revealed the location of the nest due to the sensitive nature of the species.

“It would be a disservice to draw public attention to them at this time. This sighting will generate attention and draw birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts down to this location, potentially causing noise and other kinds of disturbances,” Karen McDonald, Senior Manager of TRCA’s restoration and infrastructure said in a statement.

The secrecy surrounding the location of the nest may come as a surprise to some, but is easily explained by the fact bald eagles were almost wiped out of existence in Ontario half a century ago due to the use of pesticides.

The insecticide DDT was especially harmful to eagle’s nests and eggs and has since been banned in Canada and the U.S.