The Audubon bird walk will be led by John Wilson, NAU Wildlife Biology student who has been a White Mountain Audubon Society guest speaker, granted Audubon scholarships, and served at the Wash as an EagleWatch volunteer for Arizona Game and Fish.
Did you know that the Bald Eagle nest at Cottonwood Wash in Snowflake is reported as the most successful one in Arizona? Arizona Game and Fish recently closed areas around our state to protect the traditional nesting locations of our large iconic national symbol. And Snowflake does not appear! Seems counterintuitive.
The long-time active Bald Eagles at this birding hotspot are quite accustomed to the local cattle and ranchers. Hikers in the area are encouraged to avoid the trail nearest to the nest, with a trail sign that merely suggests it’s time to turn around. (Perhaps it also should have a reminder that it is a federal crime to harass, damage or destroy any birds, their nests, their eggs and their young.) The best view of the nest is from the parking lot area.
When the EagleWatch program and banding of the young birds in the Snowflake nest was still possible – because the dying cottonwood trees that eagles prefer were still stable and safe – the female was identified as an effective mother with first one, and then a second, lifetime mate. Eagles are good parents who work together to build and add to their huge nests, incubate eggs, and feed chicks and fledglings.
A first or second-year bird was observed there recently. The white heads and tails do not develop for quite a few years. Both regal adults have been observed near and on the nest recently too. They will be breeding and beginning incubation within the next month or so. Yes, even in the cold and snow!
Photos, taken from a distance, by John Wilson when he served as the Arizona Game and Fish Eagle Watch volunteer at the Cottonwood Wash nest site a few years ago.
Submitted by Mary Williams, White Mountain Audubon Society President.
Mountain Daily Star Staff Reports.