Bald-eagle sighting catches Austintowner by surprise

By kristine gill


Jackleen Buzzelli knew something was up during her morning walk.

The Austintown resident walks her dogs by Woodside Lake each day and noticed recently that the ducks were unusually quiet.

“Usually they’re quacking and hungry,” Buzzelli said.

But then she looked up and noticed a large bird take off overhead.

“Its wingspan was so big, I thought it was a herring,” she said.

It was a bald eagle, and Buzzelli had enough time to get a camera out to snap a few photos.

“It was awesome,” she said.

Buzzelli’s mother, Dorothy Mehalco, who lives with her, didn’t believe the bird could be the nation’s official bird.

“I said, ‘Now come on. We’re in a residential area,” Mehalco said.

But she believed it once Buzzelli pointed it out in some trees behind their home.

“He stayed maybe 20 or 25 minutes, then flew off,” Mehalco said, adding that the other birds didn’t seem to bother the eagle.

“He wasn’t afraid of anybody,” she said. “He was going to eat and do his thing.”

Buzzelli said the bird had some type of prey in its mouth and, as it flew, a flock of crows took off after it.

She said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources suggested that the crows wanted only a piece of its food.

Buzzelli later called ODNR and the Ford Nature Education Center at Mill Creek Park to ask about the sighting.

Carol Vigorito, a naturalist with the Ford Nature Center, said there are quite a few bald eagles in the area.

“We very often see juvenile eagles especially fishing at our lake here,” Vigorito said.

Bald eagles are native to Ohio and the lower 48 states, according to the ODNR.

Dan Kramer is the district wildlife management supervisor for 19 Northeast Ohio counties through the ODNR. Kramer said bald eagles are threatened — meaning their numbers are low enough to warrant special government protection.

ODNR keeps track of the number of nests in the state, which reached about 250 last year. There are at least three nests in Mahoning County, Kramer said.

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