For the first time in anyone's memory, a pair of bald eagles is nesting at Woods Canyon Lake on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests. The eagles are using a nest formerly occupied by ospreys on the southwest shore of the lake near the Rocky Point Picnic Area.
"We're excited to see them at the lake," said Beth Dykstra, recreation staff on the Black Mesa Ranger District.
"Although we have seen eagles on occasion here, this is the first time we have observed them nesting. Apparently there are eggs in the nest because the adult birds are staying really close," she said.
Visitors to Woods Canyon Lake and especially the picnic area will be asked to not disturb the eagles during the nesting and fledgling times which should occur throughout the summer. Volunteer nestwatchers from the Arizona Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program will be on site to collect behavioral data, contact and inform the public, and monitor the eagles to minimize impacts. Users of the hiking trail adjacent to that portion of the lake will be re-routed around the nest to provide more security for the birds.
In 1972 there were only four bald eagle nesting sites throughout Arizona. Currently there are more than 50 breeding and nesting sites in Arizona. The only other nesting site on the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests is at Luna Lake east of Alpine.
"The Rocky Point Picnic Area will remain open as usual," said Dykstra, "but we will be posting some signs directing foot traffic around the nest area. Even though part of the shore line will not be accessible, we are hopeful that our visitors to the lake this summer will enjoy the splendid opportunity to learn about these magnificent birds."