For the first time in decades, bald eagles are returning to the saguaro cacti of Arizona. The Arizona Game and Fish Department released a photo last week showing a pair of bald eagles and their eaglets in a nest made between the arms of a saguaro cactus.
Kenneth “Tuk” Jacobson, the coordinator of raptor management for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, explained to the Associated Press that it’s the first record of bald eagles nesting in this environment since 1937. There have been sightings of bald eagles nesting in cacti in Mexico, but this is the first time in decades biologists get to see it in Arizona.
It was first spotted by a member of the public and later confirmed by Jacobson.
“It was absolutely amazing when I got the first report,” Jacobson told Cronkite News. “When we were able to get out there and see [the nest] from the ground and verify it, it was quite exciting.”
A helicopter survey produced some incredible photos of the eagles and eaglets, perched atop the cactus. The Arizona Game and Fish Department isn’t revealing the nest’s location, however, to protect it from tourists who might come and disturb it.
How Arizona is this! Our eagle survey team captured this image of a bald eagle family nesting in the arms of a saguaro – a rare sight! In fact, it's the first time an image of eagles nesting in a saguaro has been captured in Arizona. pic.twitter.com/OmXRGi9mVE
— Arizona Game & Fish (@azgfd) April 16, 2020
“This is one of those things that is pretty exciting,” said Jacobson, “but the last thing we want to do is draw a lot of attention to it. If we get a lot of people coming out and checking it out, we may end up inadvertently causing problems for their nesting attempts.”