A bird perched in a tree limb off Cherry Bottom Road recently got the spirits of some Gahanna neighbors soaring.
Springbrook Drive resident Paul Buckley said he was talking to his neighbors at 3 p.m. Aug. 18 when they spied a large bird sitting in a tree across from his driveway.
"I was talking with three people in a pickup truck and my neighbor came out," he said. "There was an eagle right across the street from us, sitting on a tree. We were here about four or five minutes making all kinds of noise because we got pretty excited."
He said the bird was in the tree long enough for one of his neighbors to go into his house for a camera.
But by the time the neighbor returned, the bird had flown away.
"Later that night, my neighbor on the other side was driving down Cherry Bottom Road and saw an eagle also," he said.
Buckley said he feeds birds and wildlife in his back yard, and has had visits from two pileated woodpeckers, a black squirrel, foxes and many deer.
He and his neighbors researched the species of bird they saw.
Buckley said it was a golden eagle. He and his wife, Mary Jo, both took pictures.
ThisWeek shared the photos with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, and an employee there identified it as a red-tailed hawk.
"A red-tailed hawk has a white belly with a faint band of feathers, as in the photo," said Brian Plasters of the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
He said a red-tailed hawk is one of the most common raptors in Ohio.
"It can be found in neighborhoods, along roadways, and around farms and rural areas," he said via email. "It mostly eats smaller mammals, reptiles and birds."
Plasters said golden eagles do appear sometimes in Ohio, particularly during the winter, and generally in southern or eastern Ohio.
"They are sometimes found cruising over reclaimed strip mines," he said.
Buckley disagreed with Plasters' opinion.
"I know what hawks look like," he said. "I feed birds. It was at least three times bigger than a hawk. It's a golden eagle. I've showed it to other people who have seen them before. I showed it to a lot of people who saw them before and they agreed."
When the bird flew away, Buckley said, the wingspan was as wide as the driveway.
"It was a sight to see," he said.
Plasters said residents can report wildlife sightings and trappings by filling out a form online at wildlife.ohiodnr.gov. Visitors can click on the Ohio ODNR tab, select Wildlife Home, then Species and Habitats and choose Report Wildlife Sightings.
Gahanna city administrator Dottie Franey said a resident sent pictures of an eagle to her in February 2017. At that time, she was the city's service director.
She said the sighting was in the Cherry Bottom Road area.
"Bald eagles can be found throughout the state in summer and winter," Plasters said. "The majority of nests are in northern Ohio closer to Lake Erie."
Information about them can be found at https://bit.ly/2KHYkqx.
"It's important to remember these are bald eagles," Plasters said.
"Golden eagles do not nest in Ohio. If someone did find a golden eagle nest in Ohio, the entire birding-conservation world would definitely be excited."