Lone eagle sits solo on cell tower, fishing line stuck in mouth, nest gone

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A neighborhood in Tampa is now on “Eagle Watch” as residents try to solve a mystery.

Those who live near 50th Street and Palm River are used to seeing a nest sitting high atop a cell phone tower. A family of eagles has lived there for so long, the birds have become a celebrity sighting of sorts.

The nest is well-known.

“Everybody around here knows it’s there,” said Chris Sutherland. “You catch people walking on the street, they’ll tell you it’s there with eagles in it.”

These days, however, that family is now down to one member.

A lone eagle. With no nest.

The majestic bird sits solo with no family whatsoever.  

When people pass by, they hear the juvenile eagle chirping, all by itself. Then, there are those who have seen the heartbreaking sight – a long fishing line stuck in the bird’s mouth, left dangling below.

“I was very upset,” said resident Dave Mosier. “We enjoy the eagle’s nest, we’ve been watching it for years.”

Carl Aldridge works nearby and wonders what happened.  Then, on Sunday, he made a disturbing discovery. He found the lone eagle’s sibling dead on the ground. 
“I didn’t know what to think, I tried to call somebody about it,” said Carl. “Made me sad.”

Carl called both the Audubon Society and Florida Fish and Wildlife officials, who showed up shortly after to investigate. “The reason they were there, someone tore the nest down. They were there checking on it,” Carl told WFLA.

An FWC spokesperson confirms that the agency is, indeed, investigating the case.

No one seems to know what happened to the nest.

Did it fall? 

Neighbors have scoured the ground below looking for the nest, but found nothing.

Residents are now left asking another question, an unpleasant one.

Was this the result of workers performing maintenance on the cell phone tower?  Did they knock the nest off the tower and not tell anyone? A sign sits below at the base of the tower with an explicit warning. It lets people know that an eagle’s nest is present, and the birds are federally protected.

“If there’s no nest laying around, then where did it go,” asked Chris Sutherland. “Makes me wonder. Well, did somebody take the nest, which would imply foul play?”

He added, “It makes me angry. That’s our American symbol. What else can I say, that’s the bald eagle.” 

For now, the lone member of this eagle family stands watch over 50th Street.

Meanwhile, residents say they hope the mystery of the missing nest is solved soon.


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