Bald Eagle Numbers On the Rise In Alabama
The number of Alabama's nesting bald eagles appears to be on the increase, based on the results of an aerial nesting survey conducted by Alabama's Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). Indications are that there are roughly five new bald eagle nests in the state, bringing the total to around 50. ADCNR completed an important part of the survey last week.
"We expect to get a few more reports of new nests in addition to what we've seen already," said Keith Hudson, a wildlife biologist who conducted the survey for ADCNR. "We will be doing an aerial survey every three to four weeks until all the eagles have gone -- basically through April."
Hudson said that the bald eagles he saw during the survey last week are in the middle of their nesting activities. "Many of the young ones are thermo regulating now," he said. "That's when they don't have to have assistance from the adults to stay warm. And, naturally, they'll be flying for the first time in the weeks to come and then they'll leave."
Hudson said that the increased number of bald eagle nests in Alabama is especially gratifying for those who have been involved with the state's restoration of bald eagles, which began in 1984. "The restoration began in 1984, but we didn't have our first nesting attempt until 1987," he said. "And we didn't have our first successful nest until 1991. Now we have at least 50, so that shows you how far we've come.
"It's a wonderful feeling. To check on the 50 nests that we just did, I spent two full days in an airplane, and I mean full days. If I had to do that survey by land, well, I just wouldn't be able to do it."
Bald eagles wintering here can be seen along major river and lake systems, but most are concentrated at Lake Guntersville State Park and Pickwick Lake near Waterloo in Lauderdale County. January and February are the best months for viewing them. Additional information about bald eagles is available at www.outdooralabama.com. If
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you’re interested in seeing bald eagles at Lake Guntersville State Park, you can call the park at 1-800-548-4553 for more information. Binoculars, a telescope or a strong camera lens will enhance the viewing.
Annual counts by ADCNR show that roughly 100 Bald Eagles winter in Alabama. A few things readers in your audience might find interesting:
- Bald eagles have a wing span of seven to eight feet and can live up to 40 years
- Bald eagles can see prey from as far away as a mile and a half and can dive at 100 mph
- Bald eagle nests can be as much as 10 feet wide and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds
- It had been 35 years – since 1949 – since the birds had nested in Alabama when the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources began its bald eagle restoration program in 1984.