While flying a shorebird survey over the Virginia barrier islands on April 26, 2013, Dr Bryan Watts, Director of The Center for Conservation Biology, and Barry Truitt, Chief Conservation Scientist for The Nature Conservancy, discovered that a bald eagle pair had built a nest on the ground in the sand dunes on one of the barrier islands. In the nest were two chicks about 35 days old that appeared to be in good condition. It is likely this is the pair that had previously had a nest on an old shack. The shack was washed away by hurricane Sandy.
Ground nesting bald eagles are very rare and this is the first documented record in Virginia. A follow up aerial survey was conducted on May 9 and the eagle chicks, now about 7 weeks old, appear to be doing well. There were Diamondback Terrapin shells (turtles) in the nest. The male bald eagle was perched about 15 feet from the nest.
Photos credits Dr Bryan Watts
April 26, 2013
May 9, 2013