WATERVILLE — High atop a dead tree overlooking Messalonskee Stream, near homes and Waterville Senior High School, is a nest made with stout sticks that is big enough to hold a person.

Inside the nest is a charcoal-gray, awkward-looking eaglet.

Eva Goulette, her children, and others have been watching the bird grow.

“We love watching the eagles and have for many weeks,” she said.

The eagles that live above the stream spend the day caring for the eaglet, which has yet to take its maiden flight. The eaglet stays low in the nest, occasionally standing up to stretch its wings. As one adult spends time catching food for it, the other often is perched above the nest watching for both food and predators.

The eagle family is among a growing population in Maine as the species rebuilds itself, according to Charlie Todd, a wildlife biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

He said aggressive management and protection measures helped the eagle population rebound enough that in 2009, it was taken off the endangered species list in Maine.

Todd said based on aerial counts, there are about 600 nesting pairs of eagles in Maine and 30 in Kennebec County. Years ago, eagles were isolated to the Down East region and have successfully spread across the state.

The nest in Waterville is not typical, he said, because it is in a residential area. He added the fledging eaglet will stay with the adults even after it takes its first flight from the nest.

“Eaglets go off on their own in September,” he said.

“People are seeing more eagles today than any other time in their life,” Todd said. “It’s a great reversal.”

David Leaming — 861-9255

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