South Charlotte

The eagles on this golf course are for real

An eagle nesting pair has settled into Piper Glen.
An eagle nesting pair has settled into Piper Glen. LEE DEMPSEY

Who knew that bald eagles were such big golf fans?

Piper Glen residents have reported seeing two bald eagles flying above the tree canopy lately. But according to Bob Lyberopoulos, the TPC Piper Glen Country Club membership director, the pair has called the golf course home for at least two years.

“A lot of residents didn’t know they were here but we do at the club because we see them every day,” he said. “They’re cool. They’re huge. And they scare the hell out of the other birds.”

And Lyberopoulos said pretty soon more birds will grace the skies over Piper Glen: The couple recently had two chicks.

Lyberopoulos said he suspects more people have had sightings lately because the male has been flying around more trying to gather food for the female, who is guarding the nest.

“She’s always around it,” he said. “She hasn’t been flying around too much.”

Lyberopoulos said the pair hatched a chick last year, but that one has since moved on.

“They don’t like their kids to stay there once they’re grown so they shooed him away,” he said. “And then the next thing you know, we saw another nest.”

Michele Miller Houck, associate executive director of the Carolina Raptor Center, said eagles mate for life and typically have between one and three eggs each year, with two typically hatching.

She said the center is aware of three or four active nests in Charlotte, including the one in Piper Glen.

Houck said eagle nesting pairs were all but down to zero in the 1960s before the government banned DDT, a pesticide that weakened eagle egg shells as well as eggs from other birds. Now, experts believe there are about 100 nesting pairs in the state, she said. They also have been taken off the endangered species list.

“These birds are a national and state treasure,” she said. “So (Piper Glen residents) should be excited they’re there but also very respectful of them.”

Houck said raptors can adapt to most settings if they have a food supply. Eagles, she said, eat primarily fish. Thus, she said, it makes sense that the Piper Glen eagles would locate near the lake.

“If they can find a food source, they’re certainly going to be where the food source is,” Houck said. “A lot of raptors really have adapted to the urban environment. They’re highly adaptable.”

Lyberopoulos said he also thinks Piper Glen is a great place for an eagle to settle because the community is an Audubon Club, meaning land is protected for wildlife.

“So we’ve got a lot of different wildlife and birds all over the place,” he said.

And although eagle sightings is not listed as a perk in the country club package, Lyberopoulos said members always “get a huge kick” out of seeing the eagles flying around.

It’s not just members either. Although he sees the birds daily, Lyberopoulos said they never fail to impress him.

“It’s not every day you see bald eagles flying around,” he said. “We enjoy them and we’re happy they’re here.”

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