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CONTACT:
Chris Martin,  (603) 224-9909 
Mike Marchand, (603) 271-3016
Jane Vachon,  (603) 271-3211
September 29, 2008


NEW HAMPSHIRE BALD EAGLES POST RECORD-SETTING YEAR

Click for a higher-resolution version of the image.
eaglets by Derrick Z Jackson
Three color-banded bald eaglets await return to their Pontook Reservoir nest in June 2008. A record-high three New Hampshire eagle nests produced trios this summer. CREDIT: Derrick Z. Jackson, The Boston Globe

CONCORD, N.H. - From the Seacoast to the Lakes Region to the North Country, the 2008 bald eagle breeding season in New Hampshire was the most successful one in the state in over 60 years, setting several new record-high marks for productivity for this state-listed endangered bird. 

An impressive total of 24 young bald eagles reached fledging age in the state this summer, a new record that is twice the number fledged in 2007. Eagle chicks are considered fledged at 11-12 weeks of age, when they begin to fly to and from the nest. "This was a truly exceptional eagle breeding season," said Chris Martin, a raptor specialist with New Hampshire Audubon who coordinates statewide eagle monitoring efforts.

Since bald eagles first began nesting again in New Hampshire in 1988, a total of 107 bald eagle chicks have fledged from nests located across the state.  Fifty-seven eaglets have been produced from New Hampshire nests during the last three breeding seasons (2006 to 2008), easily surpassing the 50 young raised during the previous 18 years (1988 to 2005) combined. 

In 2008 alone, three nesting pairs produced three fledglings each, bettering the previous record of two nests fledging trios in 2006.  There were as many three-chick nests in the state in 2008 as in the previous 20 breeding seasons combined. "If these trends continue, even better years are yet to come for bald eagles," said Martin.

eagle production
Data from N.H. Audubon, 9/5/2008

New Hampshire's 15 territorial bald eagle pairs also established new records for the number of pairs incubating eggs and for the number of pairs raising young successfully.  Incubation was confirmed at 13 nests in 2008, which is up from 11 pairs with eggs in both 2006 and 2007.  A total of 12 of the 13 incubating pairs were successful at fledging young this year, an increase from the 8 successful pairs documented in 2007, and also beating the state's prior record-high of 10 successful pairs in 2006.

 "We gained one new pair at Silver Lake in Tilton, but lost another at Merrymeeting Lake in New Durham that was present in 2007," said Martin.  Pairs of bald eagles were observed for the second straight year on both Bow Lake in Northwood and on Surry Mountain Lake in Surry, although no nests were located for either of these pairs.  Three more pairs whose territories straddle the state's borders - one in Maine near Umbagog Lake, and two more located along the Connecticut River in Vermont - are not included in New Hampshire's tally, because the actual nests are built in those adjacent states.

Monitoring and management of bald eagles in New Hampshire is carried out by the N.H. Audubon, working under contract with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. Additional support comes from landowners and other state and federal natural resource agencies. N.H. Audubon recruits, trains, and deploys volunteer observers to document eagle distribution and productivity.

Working with Maine's BioDiversity Research Institute (BRI), biologists banded one-third (8 of 24) of New Hampshire's young eagles in 2008. Martin estimates that more than 50% of New Hampshire's breeding adult eagles are leg-banded. 

In 2008 biologists were able to positively identify 3 breeding bald eagles by reading the bands on their legs. One is an 11-year old male from Massachusetts now breeding at Nubanusit Lake in Hancock; another is an 11-year old male from Massachusetts breeding at Squam Lake in Moultonborough; and a 10-year old male from New York is breeding at Pontook Reservoir in Dummer.

New Hampshire Audubon, a non-profit membership organization, is dedicated to the conservation of wildlife and habitat throughout the state.  For more information about New Hampshire Audubon, visit www.nhaudubon.org.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's marine, fish and wildlife resources and their habitats. Its Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program is the steward for species not hunted, fished or trapped. Through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates. The program works in cooperation with other New Hampshire wildlife agencies and organizations to develop and implement effective conservation strategies to protect and enhance this diverse group of wildlife. Visit www.wildlife.state.nh.us/Wildlife/nongame_and_endangered_wildlife.htm.

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