CLEARWATER, Fla. — Fireworks being set off at a local minor-league baseball stadium are sparking concern among birdwatchers.
Right now, two eaglets are nested at the top of a cell tower off of U.S. 19 in Clearwater. Directly across the highway, roughly a quarter mile away, is where BayCare Ballpark sits — home of the Clearwater Threshers baseball team.
Louise Roy, the coordinator for EagleWatch of Pinellas County, has been watching this specific nest for years. She said right now, these birds are too young to fly.
According to Roy, there's a reason they are "fledging" or growing their feathers later in the year.
"The reason [the birds] are so late to fledge is because this pair [of mates] had a nest with eggs in January and something happened to the babies and they passed. We don't know what happened," Roy explained. "So they reclutched and they laid more eggs. That's why this pair [of eaglets] is so late because they normally fledge in March."
The change in timeline is an issue because now minor league baseball is in season, and the Clearwater Threshers advertise fireworks after every Saturday home game on its social media pages and website.
"The concerns are, one, the sparks could hit the nest and cause the fire. Two, the noise might spook them and they might fall off the nest," Roy said.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a half-mile buffer is advised for any blasting or other loud noises, while the nest is in use. This nest is roughly a quarter mile away from the field.
FWC tells 10 Tampa Bay the agency is in contact with the ballpark manager.
"The service has been in contact with the ballpark manager and is providing guidance on how best to avoid disturbance impacts to the pre-fledge nestlings. We don't have any additional details at this time but will be happy to follow up with you when those are available," Jennifer M. Koches, the supervisory public affairs specialist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wrote to 10 Tampa Bay in an email.
Roy hopes these eaglets are given just a few more weeks to grow.
"Just wait a couple of weeks and you can have all the fireworks you want," Roy said.
10 Tampa Bay reached out to the Threshers media team and management for comment. An email was sent reading:
"We were made aware of the nest recently and have been working with the county and appropriate agencies to reach a resolution. We should know more tomorrow."
According to its social media pages and website, fireworks are still scheduled following the home game this Saturday.