Skip to content
Sunday, March 26 - Around the Bay Race Road Closure Notice: Please be advised that York Blvd. will be closed and a segment of Plains Rd. W. will be reduced to one lane for the Around the Bay Road Race. RBG Centre remains open but the Rock Garden and Rock Garden Bistro will not open until 1:30 p.m. Increased traffic congestion is expected during the race.

Bald Eagles

Bald Eagle Conservation Project

In 2013, RBG was home to the first eaglets to hatch on the Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario in over 50 years.

Royal Botanical Gardens has the perfect environment to convince Bald Eagles to settle in. These large predators need at least 100 hectares of undisturbed forest to nest and roost, plus an adjacent 50 hectares of wetlands to allow them to catch fish. We have it all right here, and on March 22 and 23, 2013, the first eaglets to hatch on the Canadian shoreline of Lake Ontario in over 50 years, broke free of their eggs: a testament to the environmental restoration work that has taken place at RBG and Hamilton Harbour.

  • Bald Eagle in Large Nest
  • bald eagle in flight
  • Bald Eagle Juvenile Burlington Heights Carol's Bay
  • Juvenille Bald Eagle In Flight Above Nest
  • Two Bald Eagles Sitting In Large Next At Cootes Paradise
  • pair of bald eagles, one standing at the edge of the nest and the other is taking off in flight

History of Bald Eagles at RBG

It has been decades since Bald Eagles nested on the Canadian shores of Lake Ontario. In fact, by the early 1980s, mostly as a result of widespread use of the pesticide DDT, there were only four active nests in all of the Great Lakes. That equals approximately 15 surviving birds. The species was all but locally extinct.

Nowadays, with the effects of DDT behind us — it was phased out beginning in the early 1970s — and with serious conservation efforts, the Bald Eagle has made a comeback. There are now dozens of active nests on the Great Lakes and inland through Southern Ontario, and countless nests in lakes north of 49th parallel.

Bald Eagles have overwintered in Cootes Paradise at Royal Botanical Gardens in increassing numbers annually. In 2008 the first pair stayed for the entire summer — which lead our conservation staff to believe that the time was right for a pair to settle in and call Cootes their own. This means building a nest, laying eggs, raising young. They have become a highly visible and inspirational symbol of why choosing sustainability and restoring the environment for generations to come is possible.

Update – Spring 2023

The eagles have nested successfully again, returning to a past nest in public view. This nest is very large and adjacent to the Marsh Boardwalk accessed via the Arboretum. The number of eagles is unknown, but they will fledge near the end of June. In addition, multiple addition juvenile eagles have also taken up residence around Cootes Paradise. The best trail to observe the eagles from is the Sassafras or Princess Point trails on the south side of Cootes Paradise. Please remain on RBG trails and respect the privacy of these beautiful birds!

What do Bald Eagles need?

  • A large body of water, usually a marsh larger than 30 hectares, to supply them with fish, birds and other small mammals to eat.
  • A relatively large patch of undisturbed mature forest (large trees) in which to nest within 0.5 km of the hunting area and at least 0.5 km from people.
  • A large patch of woodland in which to rest and shelter during the non-nesting season; experts suggest a minimum of 260 hectares of woodland.

What is RBG doing?

  • Continuing with our wetland restoration program, Project Paradise, to ensure suitable hunting grounds exist in this 250-hectare marsh.
  • Striking a better balance between visitor access and wild spaces. This means modifying our trail network (Hopkins Loop and Grey Doe Trails) to ensure that adequate undisturbed forest exists while ensuring visitors the opportunity to experience wildlife in adjacent areas. We have also clearly posted a 15-hectare Special Protection Area around the nest site.
  • Erected the beginnings of a Bald Eagle nest in very large White Pine tree in an isolated area on the north shore of Cootes Paradise. Though the eagles investigated other potential nest trees, in the end they have settled on this White Pine.


Learn more about RBG’s conservation efforts with these downloadable PDF resources and external links.

Support Conservation at RBG

These conservation projects are possible thanks to the generous support of RBG Members and donors. With a donation to Growing up Green, you can ensure an active, vibrant and healthy future for the children of today and tomorrow through our horticultural and conservation projects.

Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is the largest botanical garden in Canada, a National Historic Site, and registered charitable organization with a mandate to bring together people, plants and nature.