OGDEN BAY -- A pair of nesting eagles are currently taking care of their eggs in Weber County at the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area.
It's the first and only bald eagle nest to be found in Weber County, said Val Bachman, Division of Wildlife manager at the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area. It was discovered eight years ago.
"Prior to that nest, there had never been any record of eagles nesting in west Weber County. But now we have attracted more eagles; it is not uncommon to have over 100 eagles here in the winter," Bachman said.
Though the Division of Wildlife Resources can't verify the number of eggs, it has determined the male and female eagles are incubating in the nest, with both sharing equally the responsibility of caring for the eggs while they incubate over the next few months.
Bald eagles like to breed in areas near a seacoast or along the shores of a large lake. Ogden Bay appears perfect because fish are plentiful around the Great Salt Lake and tall trees exist for a good nesting area.
Migrating eagles created the nest in Ogden Bay about eight years ago with collected sticks and branches, according to officials, They created a massive nest about 15 feet wide and 6 feet deep.
It's important for the two birds -- each with an 8-foot wing span and the possibility of three young eagles in the nest -- to have enough room, officials said, as well as have good perching areas for all of them when the eaglets begin learning how to fly.
When eagles are first born, they are about 8 to 10 inches long. Within a couple of months, they then reach a body length of almost 2 feet. Once they start stretching their wings out and get the blood circulating, they can fledge within a week.
When Bachman became the manager of the area more than 30 years ago, eagles were endangered. The DWR started implementing opportunities to increase the wintering eagles, including making sure enough fish were available for them in the water.
Eagles aren't the only birds to migrate through the area.
"We have over 200 species of birds, with a lot of different nests. It's a major migration stop," Bachman said.
The eggs will probably hatch by early summer, but the DWR doesn't have an exact date, because officials are unable to go near the nest to see when the eggs first arrived.
"We close the perimeter around them because it is essential no one goes near it. Most nesting birds are vulnerable, and it's important for them to have a peaceful time," Bachman said.
Even though eagles are no longer an endangered species, they are considered a sensitive animal that is still threatened in some areas.
"They are still a species of concern, so we are trying to increase those numbers, especially with the bald eagle being the national symbol and a highly visible icon of the endangered species act," Bachman said.
Phil Douglass, DWR's Conservation Outreach Manager for Northern Utah, said making sure the eagles are protected is integral.
"Utah is a place where bald eagles have found good habitats and are finding other opportunities to create their own nests," Douglass said. "While those numbers are growing slowly, Utah does hold an important place for bald eagle conservation."
The nest wouldn't have been possible had it not been for the funds provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1938 and the Pittman Robertson Act, which used funds from an excise tax on guns, ammunition and other sporting equipment to fund wildlife conservation projects in wildlife areas across the country, including Ogden Bay.
The DWR does allow the public to come see one of their eagle nests in Farmington Bay during June on a tour led by one of their wildlife coordinators.
For more information, visit www.wildlife.utah.gov.