On July 4, I watched an unrelenting barrage of fireworks launched by a large group of party-goers approximately 100 feet from a well-documented, active bald eagle’s nest near Clinton. I live 500 feet from the nest and have observed the adult pair of bald eagles successfully produce offspring in this nest for the past 12 years.
As soon as the fireworks began the parents flew off to find safe haven. A single fledgling, about 8-10 weeks old, did not fly off as he appeared too physically undeveloped. As darkness took over the baby hunkered down in the nest and the barrage of fireworks inundated the nest area unabated for the next hour.
Twenty-four hours later, only one of the parents returned briefly to the nest area and the baby was nowhere to be seen.
So, what happened to the fledgling? As of July 7 no one knows. It is clearly not in the nest anymore. It’s possible, in sheer terror the fledgling just jumped out of the nest and fell to the ground.
Alternatively, he might have successfully flown away. What is clear is the fledgling was driven from the nest in the most unimaginably difficult conditions, barraged with loud, repeated booms, shock waves and flash bangs.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Act protects eagles from “disturbances.”
The night of terror this fledgling experienced clearly meets the definition of “disturbance.”
In previous years, after the maiden daytime flight the parents and the fledgling remain very close to the nest area for the next month to continue training to improve flight and fishing skills.
Enough is enough.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife needs to investigate this incident. The bigger question, though, is what to do about the continuing problems associated with residential fireworks.
Age, alcohol, “reservation-grade” fireworks, basic lack of common sense and respect for others are common features of the bigger problem. Maybe we should do what many other communities have done in Western Washington and ban residential fireworks?
It is unfortunate that a few ruin it for everyone, but that is often the case. This problem will probably only get worse as Whidbey Island has become the dumping ground for all the revelers banned from discharging fireworks in other communities.
Other local governments have concluded the only way to have a safe Fourth of July is to ban residential fireworks.