Michael Marchand, NHFG, 603-271-2461
Chris Martin, NH Audubon, 603-224-9909 x317
January 28, 2008
2008 Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey Yields Record N.H. Sightings
CONCORD, N.H. - Eagle-eyed observers saw a record-high total of 67 bald eagles in New Hampshire during the 2008 National Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey two-week count period in January, including 59 (30 adults, 29 immatures) observed on Survey Day. The effort was coordinated by New Hampshire Audubon in collaboration with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
"These results were stunning," said Chris Martin, a Senior Biologist in New Hampshire Audubon's Conservation Department. "The record 59 eagles sighted on Survey Day was 30% more than the prior N.H. mid-winter Survey Day high count of 44 birds in 2006."
A big turnout of 85 volunteer participants showed up to help, binoculars in hand, on Survey Day, which was conducted on January 12 (January 10 in the Lakes Region). This was the 28th consecutive year that N.H. Audubon has conducted the survey (since winter 1980-81). "During that time, the wintering bald eagle population in New Hampshire has clearly recovered from the lowest of lows," said Martin. On Survey Day in 1982, NH Audubon staff and volunteers located just two bald eagles statewide.
"New Hampshire's increase in wintering and nesting eagles over the last several decades reflects the national trend towards recovery of the species. Monitoring wildlife populations through efforts like this helps us evaluate the success of recovery efforts." said Michael Marchand, a Wildlife Biologist with N.H. Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
The official mid-winter Survey Day occurs within a more inclusive two-week "count period," which this year ran from January 2-16, 2008. NH Audubon keeps records on the number of eagles seen during this two-week interval, combining Survey Day data with any additional individual birds that are distinguishably different and are seen during the week before and after the Survey Day, to get an overall count period total.
During the 2008 mid-winter survey, eagles were observed in New Hampshire five major eagle wintering areas (and a few elsewhere) during the Survey Day and the count period:
- Androscoggin River - Total of 6 bald eagles seen, including 5 individuals (3 adults, 2 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (adult) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Connecticut River - Total of 13 bald eagles seen, including 12 individuals (9 adults, 3 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (immature) confirmed during the two-week count period. (In order to avoid double-counting, Vermont and New Hampshire "partition" the Connecticut River, with Vermont credited for all eagles seen upstream from of Wilder Dam, and New Hampshire credited for all eagles seen downstream from the dam.)
- Great Bay/Coastal - Total of 13 bald eagles seen, including 11 individuals (3 adults, 8 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 2 additional eagles (both adults) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Lakes Region - Total of 10 bald eagles seen, all 10 individuals (3 adults, 7 immatures) seen on Survey Day, no additional eagles confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Merrimack River - Total of 21 bald eagles seen, including 20 individuals (12 adults, 8 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (immature) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Elsewhere in New Hampshire - Total of 4 bald eagles seen, including 1 individual (immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 3 additional eagles (1 adult, 2 immatures) confirmed during the two-week count period.
Comparisons with previous New Hampshire mid-winter surveys may be made by referring to N.H.'s Winter 2006-07 bald eagle report, which is posted on the NH Audubon website at www.nhaudubon.org/pdf/06-07wintering_bald_eagles_report.pdf.
Additionally, the latest update to the National Mid-winter Bald Eagle survey website, including national and regional trends analysis of survey data collected from 1986-2005, is now available at http://ocid.nacse.org/nbii/eagles.
NH Audubon and N.H. Fish and Game will conduct another eagle count at the end of February to provide a better index of the abundance and distribution of bald eagles in the state near the end of the wintering season. The 4th annual 2008 Late Winter Bald Eagle Survey will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2008 (Thursday, February 21, 2008, in the Lakes Region).
New volunteer recruitment and training for eagle survey participants occurs each year in November and December, prior to the winter eagle-watching season. If you'd like to get involved next year, check the NH Audubon website next fall for training dates.
NH Audubon (www.nhaudubon.org) monitors bald eagle abundance and distribution throughout the state each year as part of an annual contract with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.
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