DEC Announces Results of 2006 Bald Eagle Breeding Season

The 2006 bald eagle population in has increased statewide from previous years and currently is at record numbers. Each year, DEC wildlife staff and volunteer “nest-watchers” monitor the nesting eagle population. Known nesting territories are monitored early in the spring to confirm returning adults, nest location, egg-laying date and the hatching of young. In addition, considerable time is spent trying to locate new nesting pairs in areas where adult eagles may have been seen regularly.

After active nests are identified, each site is visited to confirm the number of young produced; place a predator guard—an aluminum flashing to prevent raccoons from climbing nest trees and killing eggs or young—around each tree; band the young; inspect the nest for security and contents, and fix the location with a GPS device. The GPS information is instrumental because all locations are placed into the state’s Master Habitat Database, which is scanned thousands of times a year when development or other projects are being considered around the state.

Landowner Support
Because all nests are not on public lands, personal contact with the landowner is established to garner their support, as well as to discuss bald eagle biology and needs. Almost without exception, landowners are pleased and proud that they have eagles nesting on their land, and they are eager to help in any way they can. Landowners are the first, and best, line of defense in protecting the reestablished eagle population, which is why their support is so essential.

Record Numbers in 2006
During the first week of May 2006, nest visits began, and almost all nests had hatched. In the following two months, it was apparent that significantly more nests with three eaglets were encountered than ever before. By the time the final tally was completed in August 2006, a remarkable 172 young were counted as fledged from 110 nesting pairs in New York State during the 2006 breeding season.

These results mark a 20 percent increase in nesting pairs and a 54 percent increase in fledged young since 2005. Overall, 76 percent of all eagle pairs that nested in the state were successful in fledging young, with 30 percent of them producing three eaglets. The long-term average of nests with three eaglets is typically between 5-10 percent of all productive pairs. Biologists attribute the significant number of eaglets to very favorable mild and dry weather during the late winter and early spring when eagles were laying and hatching eggs, as well as to state and federal initiatives in place to protect these species. NYS DEC