Hurricane Irene struck the James River in Virginia on August 27 with significant damage to bald eagle nests. On September 3, Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of The Center for Conservation Biology, conducted an aerial survey of 154 bald eagle nest along the James River. 36 nests (23.4%) showed visible damage and 32 (20.8%) were lost outright. Damage was widespread throughout the drainage, with the heaviest damage within 10 miles of Hopewell.
The loss and damage to nests is similiar to that documented in 2003 following Hurricane Isabel when 40% of nest were damaged or lost. Reproductive rates fell the following spring. Within 3 breeding seasons, reproduction was back to normal levels. The impact of Irene on the breeding population is likely to be similiar.
Thanks for keeping us updated. Now, if only NBG Dad could find a mate who interests him! He mustn’t be too picky – Legacy Lady was one of a kind and will be hard to replace in all our hearts. Always enjoy your updates and hopefully there will be more to come in November.
Is the drop in reproduction rates more likely due to the loss in nesting sites or to experienced adult eagles killed in the storm? If experienced birds are killed in a major storm, I’m thinking younger birds might have an easier time finding mates, but, being less experienced, would do a poorer job of successfuly raising a brood. What do the experts think?
Response – There is no evidence that eagles of any age were killed by the storm, but can see the nest tree damage caused by the storm.
1. Are there statisics on annual nest deteration/abandonment? I guess I am trying to find out how many nests might have been abandoned anyway?
2. Any speculation on father eagle at NBG becoming a father again next season?
Response – CCB is currently working on a study of nest abandonment and replacement. Report will likely be out before long. Seems most bald eagles build more than one nest during their breeding years.
The NBG male has been observed with another adult in the past week or so.
Thank-you for your dedication
1. Are there statistics on the average life of a nest? I know the NBG pair had multiple nests. In other words, is there a point when a nest is abandon due to natural deteration without a significant storm?
2. Any information and/or speculation on NBG dad becoming a father again?
Thank-you for you dedication.