News Releases

September 15, 2008

They’re Coming Back…Bald Eagles in Vermont

WATERBURY, VT – A pair of bald eagles apparently nested and raised at least one young along the upper Connecticut River in Vermont this spring, according to the Vermont Fish &Wildlife Department. Fish & Wildlife professionals and others who partnered with them in efforts to restore bald eagles have looked forward to eagle nesting success in Vermont, partly because Vermont was the only state in the lower 48 that did not have nesting bald eagles.

“A nestling was seen and reported to us by Mr. Roger Collins, who also photographed a juvenile at the nest,” said Steve Parren, Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s Nongame and Natural Heritage Coordinator. “We were able to verify the status of this nest with the help of Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc (VELCO). The nest tree was climbed after birds had left. Fragments of eggshell were found along with feathers and fish bones. Even without this evidence, the reported observations and photos made it a very credible report. We are hopeful for a productive year in 2009, as our biologists and volunteers will be monitoring any nesting pairs of bald eagles in the state.”

The bald eagle is an historic nesting species in Vermont and is state-listed as endangered. DDT and other pesticide use, as well as a history of persecution, led to it being listed in the lower 48 states as an endangered species in 1967. It has recovered throughout much of its range, including the Northeast, and was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in August 2007.

State wildlife biologists first documented bald eagle nest building in 2002 only to have the nest taken over by great horned owls in 2003. Eagles built two nests in different southeastern Vermont locations during 2005, but, typical of first year nesting attempts, the birds did not lay eggs.

Nesting occurred in 2006 at one of the southeastern nests, and one or more chicks were hatched. Cold, rainy weather, however, and the inexperience of the parent birds apparently contributed to the loss of any chicks that hatched. Later, the nest tree blew down.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department hired a crew to build an artificial nest in a nearby favorite roost tree in time for the next nesting season. Although bald eagles did visit the artificial nest in 2007, they started building a new nest at another location, but no eggs were laid.

Another new nest was discovered in 2008, but no young appear to have been produced. That same year, bald eagles were also seen at another old nest in southeastern Vermont, but they apparently did not succeed in raising young.

New York biologists banded an eaglet in 2007 at their first Lake Champlain nest. This summer a Vermont nest along southern Lake Champlain was documented. It appeared to be a first year nest with no young produced, and may be the same pair that nested in New York. The New York nest, located a few miles away, was not used during 2008.

New Hampshire had over a dozen nests during 2008, including several along the Connecticut River. The Connecticut River in Vermont and New Hampshire is likely benefiting from the release of captive Bald Eagles on the Quabbin Reservoir in Massachusetts decades ago. Because New Hampshire has jurisdiction over most of the Connecticut River, nesting eagles on islands are claimed by New Hampshire although the birds may frequent both states.

Thanks to Senator James Jeffords, collaboration of several organizations, and the participation of many volunteers, a three-year bald eagle translocation initiative took place at the Fish & Wildlife Department’s Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison from 2004 to 2006. A total of 29 captive eaglets were released. These releases should boost the momentum of bald eagle recovery that is just beginning in Vermont.

“Based on our experience with osprey recovery that began in the early 1980s, we believe the bald eagle will someday also be an abundant nester in Vermont,” said Parren. “Like the Osprey Restoration Project, the successful recovery of the bald eagle will be a group effort.”

Partners cooperating with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department in this recovery effort include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York DEC, New Hampshire Audubon, Audubon Vermont, Fairbanks Museum, Outreach for Earth Stewardship, Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS), McLeod Brothers Tree Service, Vermont Electric Power Company, Inc (VELCO), and interested volunteers from the public.

Source: Agency of Natural Resources
Last Updated at: September 15, 2008 08:35:26