Georgia Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Todd Schneider is hoping that bald eagles nesting across North Georgia are a bunch of late bloomers in 2016.
Schneider and Bob Sargent, the new manager for the non-game conservation section of the Georgia DNR, recently surveyed 15 bald eagle nests across North Georgia.
They only found one eagle that appeared to be hatching an egg, and that was on a lake near LaFayette High School. They were not including the eagle nest at Berry College, which can be watched via webcam.
- Click here for a link to the Berry College bald eagle cam.
The DNR does two surveys each winter, the first in January to try to determine occupied territories, the second survey in March to determine how many young eaglets have been produced.
Berry College eagles outside The Cage Center are currently incubating two eggs with hatch dates anticipated in mid-February.
Eagles were observed at or near several of the nests that were surveyed last week, but there was no activity observed near three other nests in Floyd County.
The two nests that overlook the lakes at Rocky Mountain in northwestern Floyd County were empty, and no birds were seen anywhere near the nests.
Neither of those nests produced young last year. The other Floyd nest, in a hardwood in a bend of the Coosa River near the Alabama state line was also empty, and half of the nest appears to have fallen away from the original part of the nest.
Schneider and Sargent were each hopeful that more activity would be seen when they go back for a follow up survey in March in an effort to determine how many young are produced this year.
Once a bald eagle lays an egg, it incubates the egg for approximately 35 days so there is still plenty of time for the nests that were not active last week to prove to be successful in adding to the growing bald eagle population in North Georgia.
Sargent, a past president of the Georgia Ornithological Society, said national surveys have determined that something in the order of 70 or 80 million people participate in some form of bird watching activities.
“For many the bald eagle is at the top of the list of desired species to see,” Sargent said. “There are more and more programs in state and federal agencies designed to get kids into the outdoors. From my own experience, what better way to capture their interest than to show them a bald eagle? If they see that and that doesn’t pique their interest, perhaps nothing about nature is going to pique their interest.”
Schneider said that each of the two sets of aerial survey flights across the state takes about five days and represent a significant investment by the state.
While there has been talk for a number of years about shortening the survey to a single series of flights, Schneider said he anticipates Georgia will continue the monitoring activity well into the future. “There still are some conservation concerns and it’s a bird that we want to keep up with for along time in the future,” Schneider said.