Working-3-hickey-river-trees.jpg
NPR News, Classical and Music of the Delta
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Bald eagle gets new home, but will it move from dying tree?

People in a Louisiana village hope to persuade a highly visible local eagle to stick around, even though its nest atop a dying tree is in jeopardy.

They're offering it a new nest. Work crews erected a nesting structure and 65-foot (19.8-meter)-tall utility pole within the Morganza Spillway on Thursday. Leaders in Morganza are hoping it will attract the eagle, whose current nest has become something of a tourist attraction.

The spillway is part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' flood-control system and designed to divert water from the Mississippi River to the Atchafalaya Basin during major floods, The Advocate reported.

The eagle has maintained its home there since state wildlife officials released it 20 years ago and some members of the Morganza Cultural District didn't want to see it fly away from the highly visible spot once its tree withers as all others in the area have.

The cultural district is in the midst of an ambitious revitalization effort to bring more people and commerce into the village. Losing the eagle would hinder that effort, given how many visitors travel to Morganza each year to see the nest.

"We've been working for the past couple years on looking for a way to keep the eagle nest here," said René Thibodeaux, president of the cultural district. "And one of the things we've researched was how to build an artificial nest."

One option that has proven successful in other parts of the country was using tall poles topped with nesting structures to encourage eagles to nest in certain areas. It was an expensive solution, but one that the cultural district was able to pursue with help from the landowner where the current nest is located and a local electric company.

The cultural district didn't have to obtain the necessary permits to install a nesting pole elsewhere because Jacques LaCour was open to having a pole installed on his land near the current nest.

PC Electric in New Roads agreed to outfit one of its utility poles with a nesting platform and donate some of its crew on Thursday to do the installation.

The pole was placed approximately 300 feet (91.4 meters) from the current nest, still making it highly visible from the nearby highway.

Residents are hoping that the eagle will hop on over and get comfortable on the sturdier foundation, although state wildlife officials have said it's not guaranteed. "We have some hope," Thibodeaux said. "This has worked in other places."