Hawks or Eagles? Who Wins the Nest?

The first day of spring seems like a good time for this. There’s an interesting story developing in our backyard tree here in Magnolia. There’s a hawk nest that wasn’t used last year that the eagles AND hawks have been showing interest in these past several weeks. With nesting season upon them, the interest has grown recently. About a week ago, a hawk screeched into the nest while an eagle was there but the hawk left quickly. A few days ago, I was able to capture the eagle in the nest around 9 AM and a hawk in there around noontime (see green circles).

We do not know how this is going to pan out. The eagles are clearly building a nest somewhere nearby as we see them carrying sticks into the tree. I contacted Mass Audubon about the situation and this is their intriguing response: Bald Eagles will occasionally upgrade a Red-tail nest for their own use, but it’s fairly uncommon, and I think your speculation is right about the eagle using it as a source for sticks. If the eagle is there fairly regularly, I suspect the Red-tail will abandon it, as the eagles are essentially the enemy. The other thing that’s unusual is that the nest wasn’t used last year, and I’ve never heard of a Red-tail re-using a nest that hasn’t been used in two years.

It is our suspicion that the eagles are taking the nest apart for their own nesting material as fast as the hawks are rebuilding their nest for upcoming use. A selection of “our” hawks and eagles in or near the nesting area. I will keep you posted!

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