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.