Reporting Bald Eagles: Nesting in Iowa
In 2010, the Iowa DNR's Wildlife Diversity Program is initiating a new bald eagle territory monitoring survey. For many years we have tracked eagle nests on an opportunistic basis, encouraging citizens and natural resource professionals to report anything they could about eagle nests in their area. This approach has worked well but a few things have happened in recent years:Eagle Nest, Photo by Mary Ellen Leicht 1) The number of nesting pairs in the state has grown exponentially making it more difficult to track all of them, 2) the eagle was taken off of the Federal Endangered Species List, and 3) while eagles are doing very well they still face some old threats (habitat loss) as well as some threats recently brought to light (lead poisoning). For these reasons we would like to put into place a more standardized and comprehensive eagle nest monitoring plan that would help us keep a better eye on trends of bald eagle productivity and population.

The plan is simple. A random selection of bald eagle territories have been chosen to be monitored in a standardized and regular fashion – these are called Sentinel territories. The sentinel territories were chosen from a list of territories that are known to have had some nesting activity in the last 3 years. Each of the chosen territories is assigned an official volunteer monitor who visits the nest 3 times during the eagle nesting season: once in the month of March, once in the month of May, and once between June 7 and July 7. On each visit the monitor observes the nest using binoculars and/or a scope for at least 30 minutes. They record activity and eventually how many young are produced and fledge. These observations help us get a good estimate of how successful and productive eagles are across the state. It will also give us warning signs if something is going wrong.

Want to Help?

There are lots of ways to help!


Eagle Nest monitors are assigned an eagle nest to observe and report on yearly.  It requires about a ten hour time commitment annually and volunteers must participate in some form of training either through attending a workshop.  Visit our Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring homepage for more information.


We still welcome any  bald eagle nest reports. We are especially interested in the location and usage of new nests as well as updates on the usage and productivity (how many young produced?) of nests about which we already know. You can report this information by downloading and mailing in the instructions and datasheet below.
Bald Eagle Nest Reporting Instructions and Form
Bald Eagle Nest Reporting Instructions and Form
How to Identify a Bald Eagle Nest

To talk to someone about reporting eagle nests in Iowa contact:
Boone Wildlife Research Station
1436 255th St., Boone, IA 50036
515-432-2823 or