Chris Martin, NH Audubon, 603-224-9909 x317
Michael Marchand, NHFG, 603-271-2462
February 11, 2010
New Hampshire Celebrates 30th Annual Mid-winter Bald Eagle Count
CONCORD, N.H. – Wildlife watchers participating in the New Hampshire portion of the 2010 National Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey located a record-high total of 75 bald eagles during a two-week count period in January. 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.
“This year’s count marked the 30th consecutive year that New Hampshire Audubon has coordinated the count,” said Chris Martin, a Senior Biologist in N.H. Audubon’s Conservation Department. “When we started back in January of 1981, the state’s wintering bald eagle population was at the lowest of lows.” In 1982, count participants located just two bald eagles statewide.
A total of 83 hardy observers turned out on the official Survey Day (January 9 statewide and January 7 in the Lakes Region) to look for eagles throughout New Hampshire, from the Seacoast to the Connecticut River. Observers this year tallied 61 eagles (37 adult birds, 24 immature birds), exactly matching the record-high 61 birds counted on a single day in January 2009. Another 14 eagles were found during the two-week “count period” that surrounds Survey Day, yielding a grand total of 75 birds seen, the most ever seen for the two week period.
"New Hampshire's increase in wintering and nesting eagles over the last several decades reflects the national trend towards recovery of the species," said Michael Marchand, a Wildlife Biologist with N.H. Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. "Monitoring wildlife populations through efforts like this helps us evaluate the success of recovery efforts."
The official Mid-winter Survey Day occurs within a more inclusive two-week count period, which this year ran from December 30, 2009 to January 13, 2010. 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 2010 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 3 individuals (2 adult, 1 immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 5 additional eagles (1 adult, 1 immature, 3 undetermined ages) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Connecticut River - Total of 11 bald eagles seen (8 adult, 3 immature) seen on Survey Day. (To avoid duplication, Vermont and New Hampshire "partition" the Connecticut River at Wilder Dam, with Vermont credited for all eagles seen upstream and New Hampshire credited for all eagles seen downstream.)
- Great Bay/Coastal - Total of 19 bald eagles seen, including 15 individuals (7 adult, 8 immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 4 additional eagles (1 adult, 3 immature) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Lakes Region - Total of 12 bald eagles seen, including 11 individuals (7 adult, 4 immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (an adult) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Merrimack River - Total of 22 bald eagles seen, including 21 individuals (13 adult, 8 immature) seen on Survey Day, plus 1 additional eagle (an adult) confirmed during the two-week count period.
- Elsewhere in New Hampshire - Total of 3 bald eagles seen, (3 immature) all seen in the Saco River and Ossipee River watersheds during the two-week count.
N.H. Audubon and N.H. Fish and Game will conduct a similar eagle count at the end of February to better gauge the abundance and distribution of bald eagles in the state near the end of the winter season. The 6th Annual Late Winter Bald Eagle Survey will take place on February 27, 2010 (February 25 in the Lakes Region).
N.H. Audubon 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.
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 contact N.H. Audubon 603-224-9909 to get on a list to be notified in advance of the training dates.
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