Encounters with bald eagles used to be considered rare across Michigan, but recovering numbers across the state and region means your chances of spotting them are much higher than decades ago.
"We went from 30-some pairs of bald eagles, to now probably around 900 or more pairs of bald eagles throughout Michigan," said Chris Mensing, a fish and wildlife biologist with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Habitat loss, hunting and nest robbing led to a steady decline in the bald eagle population throughout Michigan during the first half of the 20th century. By the 1950s, the widespread use of DDT pesticides accelerated their decline throughout the Midwest due to the breakage of thin-shelled eggs.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973 labeled bald eagles as threatened in Michigan. Since then, protections and breeding programs still in existence have helped their population recover across the state and country.
Bald eagles make large nests in tree tops, and, in many cases, will return to the nest for several years, maintaining and making it bigger year after year. So if you see a nest, be sure to check back regularly for activity.