Mid-Winter Eagle Survey at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge's (NWR) 2017 Mid-Winter Eagle Survey took place on January 10, 2017. This year, 35 volunteers and 5 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees contributed their time to help make this eagle count successful. A special thank you to the ones who braved the cold in the evening roost count! Weather was cloudy, with a temperature about 35˚F. Winds averaged about 7mph.

Survey results are as follows.

NON-ROOST COUNT (AM)

BALD EAGLES

  • Immature: 26
  • Adult: 98

GOLDEN EAGLES

  • Immature: 1
  • Adult: 1

UNKNOWN: 12

TOTAL: 138

Top spot: 27 eagles at the Little Blackwater River. The golden eagles were spotted on the Wildlife Drive and DeCoursey Bridge. Adults were same as last year, but immatures dropped by about 60.

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ROOST COUNT (PM)

BALD EAGLES

  • Immature: 26
  • Adult: 57

GOLDEN EAGLES

  • Immature: 0
  • Adult: 0

UNKNOWN: 7

TOTAL: 90

Top spot: 37 eagles at Kuehnle S. More adults were noted this year, but immatures dropped by about half.

Reasons for the results

The drop in the number of eagles counted this year was a surprise but really not alarming. The number counted this year was not that far below the 5-year average for both the roost and non-roost counts. This kind of year-to-year variation can be expected when we do a single annual count. The survey results over the next few years will provide a much better sense of long-term trends in mid-winter bald eagle numbers on and around the Refuge.