For about 25 years, two bald eagles have nested around Lake Limestone in Central Texas. The birds, which normally mate for life, have raised their young in at least five nests near the dam at Lake Limestone over the last quarter-century, says Dwight Mahoney, Lake Limestone area project manager for the Brazos River Authority.

Mahoney, who has worked for the Authority for more than 40 years, mostly at Lake Limestone, said the pair until recently kept a large nest near the Sterling C. Robertson dam The nest is still there, but the eagles have apparently relocated to a new home nearby. But anglers and others around the lake still see the two regularly silhouetted in the sky overhead or diving to the water in search of a fish dinner, Mahoney said.

“It is an amazing sight for us,” he said. “We had never seen eagles out here and then these two came and stayed. We are very respectful of them.”

Mahoney said the eagles appeared to be full grown when they first set their sites on Lake Limestone. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, bald eagles can live 30 years or more in the wild — much longer by some estimates. Males are typically smaller, weighing 7 to 10 pounds, with a wingspan of 6 or 7 feet. Females can weigh up to 14 pounds and have a wingspan of 8 feet.

In Texas, bald eagles nest from October to July, according to Parks and Wildlife. The females build the nests, with some help from their mates. Typically, nests can be up to 6 feet wide and weigh hundreds of pounds. Eagles often have one or more alternative nests within their territories.

Bald eagles mainly lay eggs in December, with their young hatching in January. The young eagles generally begin flying from the nest within three months, but the adults continue to feed them for another 4 to 6 weeks while they learn to hunt. Unlike their parents, fledgling bald eagles do not have the distinctive white heads. Their bodies will remain brown until they reach maturity in 4 to 6 years.

Mahoney says he enjoys watching the young eagles dip and swoop in the air currents that sweep over the dam as their parents teach them to fly and hunt. The parents are always close together, wherever they go, and they are very protective of their young, he said. For instance, it’s not unusual to see an osprey stray into their territory, and in no time mom and dad eagle will appear to offer the intruder a not-so-friendly escort from the area.

Once the youngsters are able to feed themselves, the ever-territorial parents will chase them off to fend for themselves in their own territory.

Until a few years ago, bald eagles, the United States’ National Symbol, were listed as endangered after they were pushed to the brink of extinction in the continental United States. Factors in the shrinking population included loss of habitat, use of certain pesticides and illegal shooting by people. The number of bald eagles across the nation has rebounded to the point they have been upgraded from endangered to threatened by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, though harming one is still a federal offence.

Lake Limestone offers a prime protected spot for the eagles because of its bountiful supply of fish and the watchful eye of Authority lake rangers, Mahoney said. State wildlife officials also come to the lake regularly to survey the eagle population.

“As employees of the Brazos River Authority, we take great pride in protecting these eagles,” Mahoney said. “We are keeping a watch on them for future generations to enjoy.”

For more information about Lake Limestone, go to click here or call the lake office at (903) 529-2141.