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Chris Martin, NH Audubon, 603/224-9909 x317
John Kanter, NHFG, 603-271-2461                     
January 23, 2009

New Hampshire Mid-winter Bald Eagle Count Finds Numbers Up
CONCORD, N.H. - Wildlife watchers participating in the New Hampshire portion of the 2009 National Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey located a record-high total of 74 bald eagles during a two-week count period earlier this month.  The statewide effort was coordinated by New Hampshire Audubon in collaboration with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.

With binoculars in gloved hands and spotting scopes and tripods at the ready, a total of 88 observers -- nearly all volunteers -- turned out in winter gear on the official Survey Day on January 10 (January 8 in the Lakes Region).  Observers looked for eagles in each of New Hampshire's 10 counties, from the Seacoast to the Connecticut River.  This was the 29th 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 increased steadily from the lowest of lows," said Martin.  On Survey Day in 1982, N.H. Audubon staff and volunteers located just two bald eagles statewide.

This year, observers tallied a record-high 61 eagles (32 adult birds, 29 immature birds) on Survey Day.  That's up just slightly from the previous record of 59 birds counted on a single day last January.  Another 13 eagles were found during the two-week "count period" surrounding Survey Day, yielding a grand total of 74 individual birds seen.  "Like last year's results, our findings this month are very encouraging," said Chris Martin, a Senior Biologist in New Hampshire Audubon's Conservation Department.

"Here in New Hampshire, where the bald eagle was recently reclassified from endangered to threatened status, long-term monitoring studies like this one help us tremendously as we evaluate the success of our 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 December 31, 2008 to January 14, 2009.  N.H. 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, to get an overall total. 

During the 2009 Mid-winter Survey, eagles were observed in New Hampshire five major eagle wintering areas (and a few elsewhere):

  • Androscoggin River - Total of 8 bald eagles seen, including 4 individuals (1 adult, 3 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 4 additional eagles (4 adults) confirmed during the two-week count period.

  • Connecticut River - Total of 13 bald eagles seen, including 8 individuals (7 adults, 1 immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 5 additional eagles (2 adults, 3 immatures) confirmed during the two-week count period.  (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 20 bald eagles seen, including 18 individuals (4 adults, 14 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 2 additional eagles (2 adults) confirmed during the two-week count period.

  • Lakes Region - Total of 10 bald eagles seen, including 9 individuals (6 adults, 3 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (1 adult) confirmed during the two-week count period.

  • Merrimack River - Total of 18 bald eagles seen, including 17 individuals (10 adults, 7 immatures) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (1 adult) confirmed during the two-week count period.

  • Elsewhere in New Hampshire - Total of 5 bald eagles seen (4 adults, 1 immature), all seen in the Saco River and Ossipee River watersheds on Survey Day.

N.H. 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 5th annual Late Winter Bald Eagle Survey will take place on Saturday, February 28, 2009 (Thursday, February 26, 2009, in the Lakes Region only). 

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 in next year's counts, please check the NH Audubon website this fall for training dates.

N.H. Audubon (www.nhaudubon.org) monitors bald eagle abundance and distribution throughout the state each year as part of an annual contract with Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program (www.WildNH.com/nongame).

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