In March, Kim Rexroat, Eaglewatch volunteer coordinator for Pasco County, heard about an event happening just days later at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in New Port Richey. The “America is Awesome” event promised live music, a car show, a raffle, silent auction, food and drinks, and one thing that fills every EagleWatcher with dread: fireworks.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Bald and Golden Eagle Management Guidelines, fireworks shouldn’t be launched within a half-mile of an active eagle nest because the light and noise disturbs both the eaglets and their parents. Atop a cell tower on the church’s property sits PS040—a monitored nest that at the time was home to a seven-week-old eaglet. Rexroat contacted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission as well as the event sponsors, Lucas, Macyszyn, & Dyer Law Firm, to alert them of the threat the fireworks posed to the young eaglet and its parents. The loud bangs and bright flashes of fireworks could scare the eaglet, potentially causing it to jump from its nest high above the ground. Because of its young age, it would not be ready to fly, and would sustain life-threatening injuries or die on impact with the ground. Rexroat worked with the event sponsors and FWC to protect the eagles. Not only did the event organizers cancel the fireworks—they also made a $500 gift to EagleWatch.
The eaglet successfully fledged a few weeks later.
In June, the Clearwater Threshers minor league baseball team planned a post-game fireworks display in honor of first responders. The team plays at BayCare Ballpark, just across the street from PI072—another monitored nest where EagleWatch volunteer Louise Roy watched two eaglets. Roy alerted the team to the threat their fireworks posed to the eaglets, and the day before the game, the Threshers released a statement announcing they would cancel the fireworks out of respect for the eaglets’ safety.
When event organizers are unaware of active nests in their area or of the risks that fireworks pose to them, EagleWatch volunteers give Bald Eagles a voice. Thanks to Kim Rexroat, Louise Roy, the Clearwater Threshers, and the Lucas, Macyszyn, & Dyer Law Firm for supporting Bald Eagle nesting in Florida.
This article originally appeared in the 2022-23 EagleWatch Report.