Pair of nesting Bald Eagles spotted in Daniel Island Park
Normally, when someone says “love is for the birds,” it has a negative connotation. But for the pair of nesting Bald Eagles that have made a home in Daniel Island Park just in time for Valentine’s Day, that is not the case!
Daniel Island Park resident Marilyn Geiger, who recently relocated to the island from Connecticut, emphasized how wonderful it is to live in an area that maintains such attention to nature’s beauty.
“It’s pure, unspoiled nature,” said Geiger. “We’re just impressed by the Lowcountry in general and by the attention paid to maintaining the natural environment on Daniel Island. Every morning I go to check out the male who is perched in a tree, being very observant about the activity around him. The nest is active and we can see the female’s head poking out. I don’t know how many eggs are in there, obviously. I can’t imagine what it will be like when the eaglets are out.”
In a precautionary move, as soon as the Daniel Island Company’s development team was alerted to the nest they suspended their construction activity that fell within the 660-foot radius protected zone, according to Carolyn Lancaster, vice president of marketing. The distance, by law, is the appropriate size for a buffer to prevent disturbances to the nest during nesting season. The company is awaiting instructions from the appropriate government agencies, noted Lancaster.
“We knew that federal law requires us to notify the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and we did so,” she added. “All of the property owners whose properties fall within the legal protected zone of the nest have also been notified. This particular situation—where the bird has elected to nest in the middle of human activity in an active construction area —is outside the realm of our experience, so we do not know what will happen or be allowed to happen. We have halted our construction and advised individual homeowners that they should also.”
Until the federal and state regulatory agencies, including the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), give the DIC and private property owners in the affected area the go ahead, no development will be happening, explained Vice President of Community Services for the Property Owners Association Jane Baker.
“That means building of roads, sidewalks, site work on a lot that is supposed to have a single family home, nothing can happen,” said Baker. “Everything is at a standstill for the (approximately) 30 impacted lots, 10 of which were individually owned.”
For one property owner in the affected area, who opted to remain anonymous, this could present a serious issue if not resolved in a timely manner.
“Our concern is next nesting season—November 2018 to May 2019—since we have planned our move based on building time starting this fall and being completed by June 2019,” she said. “Any work stoppages will create a lot of financial and emotional headaches for my family. Our hope is that the DI developers are highly motivated to resolve this eagle nest issue quickly for a positive outcome for the (impacted) residents—including the eagles.”
Typically, the USFWS, which controls much of the permitting regarding eagle nests, do not approve permits for removal or relocation of the nests, explained USFWS representative Ulgonda Fitzpatrick. However, Fitzpatrick assured that the organization successfully works with homeowners across the southeast to achieve eagle conservation and private development.
“Generally, we do not permit moving nests,” said Fitzpatrick. “We have two types of permits -disturbance and nest removal - and there are certain criteria for qualifying for either permit. For nest removal it’s for human health and safety, when artificial structures are inoperable, or when the project provides a net benefit to eagles. For disturbance, the applicant needs to avoid and minimize impacts to get the permit which relieves them of liability under the Eagle Act during the course of a lawful activity.”
For more information about eagle permits and technical assistance, visit https://www.fws.gov/southeast/our-services/eagle-technical-assistance/. To view current regulations in South Carolina, for further information about Bald Eagle biology or to view a map of documented nest locations, visit http://www.dnr.sc.gov/wildlife/baldeagle/index.html.
While interest in the nest is understandable, Lancaster explained that it is important to remember that no one should be in the area of the nest or provide any potential disturbance to the bird’s activity. By law, human activity within the protected 660-foot zone is considered harassment during nesting season (October to May). At the request of The Daniel Island Company, to protect the nesting area, The Daniel Island News is not disclosing the site’s exact location.