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Eagle survey reveals numerous bald eagles in the region

In World
January 23, 2024

Jan. 23—By GREG JORDAN

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

HINTON — Numerous living symbols of America were sighted and counted recently when experienced spotters joined volunteers for the 19th Winter Eagle Survey in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

Bald eagles hunt and nest in both Virginias, so volunteers join veteran spotters to count their numbers. Eagle Brigade of Southern WV, which includes the Three Rivers Avian Center, Bibbee Nature Club and Hanging Rock Migration Observatory, joined together last week for the winter survey. The Spring Eagle Survey is scheduled for March 2.

Jim Phillips, the Eagle survey’s organizer, said about 79 bald eagles were counted during last year’s winter survey.

“Actually it was less than what we had last year,” Phillips said Monday. “Last year was a record. The balds we had were 79 last year and this year it was 42. And probably the reason for that was right before we did it we had all that rain and water.”

One golden eagle was sighted, too.

When streams and rivers get high and muddy, eagles cannot see fish swimming below the surface. This reduced the number of sightings.

“We were watching mainly around the water,” Phillips said.

When eagles cannot spot fish beneath water, they seek out carrion such as road kill and hunt for animals like squirrels and rabbits, he added.

Bald eagles are often sighted throughout southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

In Mercer County, bald eagles have been spotted near New Hope Road, over the Mercer County Landfill and in the Glenwood area around Kee Dam. There could be a nest in Mercer County, but one has not been found, Phillips said before the most recent survey. Last year, the survey found 16 bald eagle nests in southern West Virginia and another 10 in Virginia.

People interested in participating in the March 2 bald eagle surveys can contact Phillips by messaging [email protected] on the internet.

Phillips shared the following results from the 19th Winter Eagle Survey:

—Narrows, Va. to State Line Nest with spotter Tom Wieboldt. No eagles.

—Bluestone Campground & Boat Storage (Bertha closed due to high water) — Allen and Mindy Waldron saw one adult golden eagle, two adult bald eagles. BAEA and two first-year birds.

—Mouth of the Bluestone/The Pits(overlook on Rt. 20 because of high water) Spotters and volunteers Sharyn Ogden, Jeff Hajenga, Abigail & Aaron Jeanelle, Charlie Kahle, Dan Ward, Kristi DeCourcey, Steve Ferris, Brian Hirt, Chris Mullens, Mike and Micah Bates and Elisabeth Redpath saw 6 adult bald eagles, one first year, two second year, two third year and three of undetermined age.

—Bellepoint — Charlie Kahle, Amy Nelson, Terry Meadows and Cletus Bohon saw one adult bald eagle and two second-year birds.

—Brooks Island Overlook with spotters and volunteers Alisha Segars, Caleb Keneipp and Lynn Joyce saw two adult bald eagles and fresh grass in the nest.

—Meadow River nest with two adult bald eagles, Howard’s Creek nest with one adult bald eagle, Blue Sulphur Turnpike nest with two adult bald eagles, Lake Tuckahoe nest with no eagles and Fairview Road nest with one adult bald eagle. The spotter was Pam Withrow.

—Alderson nest with one adult bald eagle, Barger Springs nest with one adult bald eagle, Dropping Lick nest with no eagles and Red Sulphur Springs nest with no eagles. The spotter were Jim and Judy Phillips.

—Greenville nest with spotter Bob Carter saw two adult bald eagles.

—Hans Creek, Dropping Lick nest and Vicinity with spotter Maury Johnson saw four adult bald eagles, one first year, two second year and two third-year birds.

—Bent Mountain Road and Athens with spotter Steve Barrett. No eagles were seen.

—Anthony Creek nest with spotter Paula Humen. No eagles were seen.

— Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]

Contact Greg Jordan at [email protected]

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