Bald Eagles Roost in Bristow Community

| January 12, 2013 | 1 Comment | News

A bald eagle perches on a tall tree in Victory Lakes. Eagles like to nest in tall trees. (Photo by Nicole Maguire Miller)

Homeowners of Victory Lakes in Bristow have new neighbors. American Bald Eagles appear to be taking up residence in the Bristow community.

Nicole Maguire Miller first posted photos of the emblematic birds on the Victory Lakes Facebook page, after her first encounter with one about a year ago.

Miller was on her way to work, when she spotted one, catching a fish in the community pond. Unable to snap the image at that time, she kept her eye out for the bird.

Then another day, she was on her deck, when she saw a large bird soaring towards her house.

“I thought it was a buzzard, and then, I realized it was actually a bald eagle. It came about 15 feet from our house, turned around and flew over the geese,” Miller said.

She described the scene in which 50 geese were bathing in the ponds, but when the eagle swooped in, the geese, “went nuts.”

That time, she grabbed her camera and photographed the animal so her children would believe her.

“I definitely think they are awesome in the neighborhood since they are so very rare to see. I used to live in Alaska where they were a dime a dozen, so it’s amazing to see them here,” Miller said.

However, once she began telling her neighbors about the eagles, they worried if there were any potential problems.

Wildlife expert Michael Keiffer, executive director of Bull Run Mountains Conservancy, said Bristow residents need not worry about the bald eagles. They are unlikely to attack or try to carry off pets. They will not even rifle through garbage cans.

However, despite the birds’ majestic image, they are actually carrions.

“Benjamin Franklin was right over wanting the turkey over the bald eagle as our national bird. Eagles are scavengers,” Keiffer said.

As such, they eat carcasses, which helps local road crews keep the roads clean of unsightly organic debris.

Keiffer does not know where the bald eagles have come from, and said they really could have migrated from anywhere.

Eagles soars through the trees in Bristow. There could be many more living in the area where one is seen. (Photo by Nicole Maguire Miller.)

“Bald Eagles come from the coast. They may have migrated from Florida, heading north. They can also be from the north or the coastal plains,” Keiffer said.

He does not know of anyone who is banding bald eagles to keep track of their migration, so it is unlikely it will be revealed  where these particular birds originated.

However, they might fit in nicely in a family-friendly neighborhood, since sometimes they form cohesive family units of up to 12 members.

Keiffer suggests residents relax and enjoy the birds.

Enjoy them while they’re there. They’re just something beautiful to watch and take photos of,” said Keiffer, who added that the birds are migratory, and unlikely to make Victory Lakes more than a temporary home.

Residents believe the eagles choose their community over nearby ones because of its pond and wildlife.

Osbourn Park High School biology teacher Devin Burda confirms that theory.

“I have seen the terrain near the Victory Lakes’ field; some of those trees make a pretty good habitat. They will only nest in the tallest branches of tall dead trees. They also like to be near or right along the edge of bodies of water. This is because their primary diet consists of fish and rodents,” Burda said.

Bald eagles, the symbol of freedom and liberty in the nation, were once endangered, but were removed from the endangered species list in 2007. However, they do remain protected.

Many Victory Lakes residents still believe they should be cautious around the animals warning that they could be parents guarding their nests.

However, for the most part, Miller just plans on enjoying her new neighbors.

“They are amazing creatures, and as rare as they are, it’s nice to see them coming more and more frequent in our area and trying to make a comeback from being an endangered species,” Miller said.

Burda agreed.

“If anything the locals should feel blessed they have such an amazing, majestic bird.”














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  1. Optimist says:

    I thought I saw an eagle the other day flying over Sudley Manor Road. There used to be several of them at Mason Neck Park over in the Lorton area.


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