Eagle Update – Statewide

Our eagle pair seems to have been successful with their chick who seems to be more independent. That is to be expected because in a few months he or she will leave the lake and most likely head for the ocean or at least some stream that stays ice free all winter. Looking farther afield is a report from Chris Martin of New Hampshire Audubon about the bald eagles in our state. Our pair has added 6 chicks to the population during 4 breeding seasons, but there are a lot more across the state. As you can see from the information below, although our eagles are special to us, lots of others across the state are enjoying them. The photo below is our eagle chick with a smile on its face because he or she likes the view, taken in August.

IMG_3492

Chris Martin states: 

New Hampshire’s state-threatened Bald Eagle population continues to exhibit a very strong recovery as evidenced by monitoring results from the just-finished 2015 breeding season. NH Audubon coordinates monitoring and management of Bald Eagles in partnership with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Nongame Program, and with funding from a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with additional grant support from TransCanada, and with assistance from individual donors and volunteers.

In 2015, we confirmed a record-high total of 45 TERRITORIAL PAIRS of Bald Eagles in New Hampshire (up from 41 pairs in 2014 and twice as many pairs as we found in 2010). We confirmed 29 PAIRS INCUBATING in 2015 (up from 27 in 2014 and twice as many as in 2010). There were 24 SUCCESSFUL NESTS in 2015 (same as 2014 and more than double what we found in 2010), and a total of 42 YOUNG FLEDGED (up from 41 fledglings in 2014 and more than double the number produced in 2010). All these statistics, except for pairs incubating, set new post-DDT era record-high marks for Bald Eagles the Granite State. New Hampshire’s statewide totals for 2015 do NOT include at least 11 additional border-nesting eagle pairs (8 known in Vermont along the Connecticut River, and 3 known in Maine). These additional birds all spend a good deal of time in New Hampshire, but because their nest trees are physically located in neighboring states we don’t count them in our NH breeding season totals.

Seeing Bald Eagles on local lakes or rivers still comes as a surprise to many NH citizens, but when you consider the various segments of the state’s 2015 eagle population it is clear why such sightings are increasingly common. Add New Hampshire’s 45 territorial pairs (that’s 90 individuals) plus their 42 fledged young, and you get a total of 132 birds. Then roughly double that figure to account for the state’s many transient immature eagles in one-, two-, and three-year old cohorts. Adding all these up, it is not a stretch to arrive at a population estimate of 250-275 Bald Eagles present in the Granite State at the close of Summer 2015! A grand total of 316 young Bald Eagle chicks have fledged from NH nests since the species began nesting here once again more than 25 years ago. Nearly 50% of those fledglings have been produced during just the past 4 breeding seasons, 2012 thru 2015!

Highlights from the 2015 breeding season include a recently discovered nest on Ossipee Lake that fledged 2 young, plus 2 additional new nests found at Elm Brook Park in Hopkinton and near Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Ongoing efforts to determine the banded status of New Hampshire’s breeding bald eagles in 2015 yielded the following results. Of 91 known territorial birds, banded status was determined for 44 individuals (48%) and remained unknown for the other 47 (52%). Of the 44 birds where banded status was confirmed, 26 individuals (59%) were unbanded, while 17 (41%) were confirmed to be banded. We positively IDed 9 individual breeding adult eagles all ranging in age from 6-11 years old at various NH nest sites in 2015. Of those 9 birds, 33% originated from NH nests, 33% from MA, 22% from ME, and 11% from NY. In addition to local origins like Squam Lake, Umbagog Lake, and Winnipesaukee, our breeding eagles hail from places like Quabbin Reservoir and the Connecticut River in MA, the Penobscot River and Little Sebago Lake in ME, and from the Hudson River near Albany NY (see Vernon Blue photo).

New Hampshire’s shared 275-mile border with Vermont on the Connecticut River now supports 19 Bald Eagle breeding territories (11 in NH and 8 across the border in VT) located immediately along the river (not entire watershed), whereas there was only one pair known along the NH-VT portion of the river in 2000. NH and VT biologists have been able to share expertise and work closely together to better monitor and manage this shared resource thanks to support provided by TransCanada’s Community Investment Program grant.