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Bald eagles on the rise in Georgia
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Georgia Department of Natural Resources biologists have documented 113 nesting pairs of bald eagles in Georgia during the 2006-2007 nesting season. The figure represents an 18 percent increase from the previous season’s total of 96 known active nests.
Among the documented nests this year, 90 (80 %) were successful in fledging 141 young eagles, the highest total since the state began recording the data in 1978. Last nesting season, 81 (84%) nests were successful in fledging 125 young eagles.
“We were encouraged to locate several new nesting sites around the state,” said DNR Wildlife Resources Division nongame program manager Jim Ozier said. “The coast continues to be the most productive area for nests.”
Because the large raptors often eat fish, waterbirds and even turtles, most eagle nests in Georgia are found along the coast and near major rivers or reservoirs. Some nests are located near smaller bodies of water if food is abundant.
Bald eagles in Georgia usually nest high in pine or cypress trees, and typically use the same nest year after year. WRD biologists conduct annual aerial surveys to observe known nesting sites and to investigate potential new sites. The increase in documented nests this year includes some new territories, as well as the discovery of several previously unknown nests that have probably existed for a year or more.
“Just a few years ago, conservation agencies were spending thousands of dollars per bird to release captive-reared eaglets into the wild,” Ozier said. “Now, wild eagles are doing a much better job on their own, and on a broader scale.”
To report nesting activity of bald eagles, call the WRD Nongame Conservation Section at (478) 994-1438.
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