Once endangered, bald eagles make return to Hobart’s Lake George
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent March 8, 2013 9:28PM
A bald eagle swoops down from his perch toward the water of Lake George in Hobart Wednesday Mar. 6, 2013. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 10, 2013 6:01AM
HOBART — The mighty bald eagle has made a triumphant return from near extinction, soaring in numbers and finding its way to places that would have been considered unusual two decades ago, including Hobart’s Lake George.
Residents have spotted the majestic birds of prey hovering overhead near the bait shop by the Wisconsin Street bridge, perched in a cottonwood tree by the Third Street bridge and scooping down to catch fish on the western portion of the lake.
“I saw one flying over the city last Thursday, but I haven’t seen it nesting anywhere,” said city employee Debbie Scurlock.
This isn’t the first year she’s seen America’s most famous bird flying around Hobart. She said she’s seen birds over the last two years.
Scurlock said they can usually be spotted in autumn.
“I took a picture of one roosting with a bunch of crows. You could see the white of his head and he was much larger than the crows,” she said.
Another resident, who didn’t want to be named, said she can view three eagles through the three-season room of her house, which is next to Lake George. She said one is young with no white feathers on its head, one is white with a few dark feathers and one is all white.
“They perch in the trees and I can see them catching the shad fish and eating them on the ice,” the woman said.
The state released 85 bald eagles at the Monroe Reservoir in Monroe County in 1985, with the goal of having 20 nesting pairs by the year 2000, said Brad Bumgardner, interpretive naturalist with Indiana Dunes State Park.
“The state well exceeded that goal. There are 120 nesting pairs,” he said.
Bumgardner said it would have been unusual to see eagles in Northwest Indiana 20 years ago, but not today.
“Now there are about 1,000 eagles in Indiana. They were taken off the endangered species list in the last couple of years,” he said.
Bumgardner said last year brought the first nesting eagles in Northwest Indiana, by Grant Street in Gary. He said they probably didn’t winter at that location, and should be returning in early April.
He said the birds usually seek out open water, where they can find food, making the Little Calumet River and Lake Michigan shoreline prime places.
Hobart eagle enthusiasts are hoping the birds found an area by the lake to nest and hatch baby eagles, as well.
“That would be pretty cool,” Scurlock said.