MUSKEGO - Spring storms blew down the tree that held in its limbs the first bald eagle nest in Waukesha County in recent times.

Storms also felled a forest giant believed to be the biggest white oak in Muskego.

Both trees were on state Department of Natural Resources land around Big Muskego Lake near Parker Drive.

Massive nest

Tom Zagar, Muskego conservation coordinator, said the eagle's nest had been high in a cottonwood tree since 2007. Each year, the eagles added onto the nest to the point where it has become massive – as much as 14 feet from top to bottom and 7 feet wide, he estimated.

After the tree fell, a pickup truck called into service was too small to haul away all the sticks and nesting material, Zagar said. A sad sidelight is that he found a dead eaglet about the size of a chicken. 

The parents were able to fly away, and Zagar said he hoped they would return next year and start a new nest in one of the other large trees nearby.

In another nature-related matter, city workers will try to get the camera that has documented domestic life in an osprey nest since 2009 back into service soon.

The camera has not worked since winter, but it was not possible to get to the nest at Big Muskego Lake to fix it. Now workers will have to wait until eggs are laid. That way they know that the parents will return to the nest after people have been nearby fixing the camera.

Big tree interests

The other casualty of the spring storms was a white oak tree that was 14 feet around and probably 300 years old, Zagar said. Its limbs were as big as the trunks of other trees, he said.

The loss prompted an idea to identify the big trees that remain in the city.

Perhaps by next Arbor Day in 2018, Zagar would like to have something like a biggest tree contest in which people could submit information about their trees. It might turn up surprising results, he said, with the existence leafy giants becoming known.

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