A bald eagle dives to the river, near the Ballville Bridge. Bald eagles are thriving today after dwindling decades ago because of habitat loss, fragmentation and contaminants.

CARROLL TOWNSHIP, Ohio – With the most recent count documenting more than 700 nests across the state, the remarkable recovery of bald eagles in Ohio is reaching new heights. 

The recent numbers are a far cry from around 40 years ago, when Ohio was then home to only four breeding pairs of bald eagles. 

To Mark Shieldcastle, a wildlife biologist who has been at the forefront of the effort to save Ohio’s bald eagles from that time through today, the current numbers would have been unimaginable. 

“Quite honestly, there’s no way I would have ever thought this would have been the number to come out in 2020 — 700 nests, going from 200 a decade ago,” Shieldcastle said. “It really shows what you can do. When humans make their minds up to do something for wildlife, we can do it.”

Ohio is home to a total of more than 700 bald eagle nests in 2020, including 90 in Ottawa County.

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Shieldcastle worked for over 30 years specializing in avian research at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, including spearheading recovery efforts when the United States’ majestic national bird was at its most vulnerable state. 

Also a founding member of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, Shieldcastle eventually retired from his position at the Division of Wildlife in 2012 and now serves as research director for the BSBO. 

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