DEEP: Bald Eagles in Connecticut

Bald Eagles in Connecticut

 
 
Bald Eagle Citizen Scientists Wanted
You can help the Wildlife Division collect important data on Connecticut’s bald eagles by submitting nest locations and observations starting in early spring and also participating in the annual Midwinter Eagle Survey in January. Stay tuned for information about the 2020 Midwinter Eagle Survey. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to Wildlife Division biologist Brian Hess at Brian.Hess@ct.gov.

{Bald Eagle Header}

 
Update on the 2019 Bald Eagle Nesting Season
Article reprinted from the July/August 2019 issue of Connecticut Wildlife Magazine
 
This Used to Be Easy
Written by Brian Hess, DEEP Wildlife Division; photography by Paul J. Fusco, DEEP Wildlife Division
 
As Connecticut’s bald eagle numbers continue to grow, the task of monitoring bald eagles around the state continues to grow as well. The DEEP Wildlife Division has always relied on volunteers and reports from the public to help monitor nests around the state, and the results from 2019 underline the importance of the observations by citizen scientists in keeping tabs on these birds.
 
{Bald eagle nest tree climber}
In 2019, Connecticut smashed records for the number of active territories (64; previous record 55), number of successful nests (45; previous record 38), and number of chicks (81; previous record 68). In addition, 14 new nesting territories were reported in 2019, with six of those new nests being successful in raising chicks. While seven of the new nests were reported by long-time eagle volunteers, five were submitted by casual observers who happened to see eagles working on nests around their neighborhoods.
 
After the pesticide DDT caused massive declines in bald eagle populations across the continental United States, recovery began slowly. This slow pace was a result of the depth of the population decline, the delayed maturity of eagles, and their relatively slow reproductive rate. In Connecticut, the first post-DDT nesting territory was established in spring 1992, decades after the widespread use of DDT was prohibited in Connecticut in 1969 and nationally in the early 1970s. Many people spent countless hours monitoring the 1992 nest and following the progress of the two chicks that hatched.
 
By 1999, 20 years ago, only two nesting territories were active in the state. That season, neither pair was successful and no chicks were produced.
{Bald eagle chick with leg bands}
 
A decade later, the eagle population had begun to climb. In 2009, Connecticut had 19 territories, producing 31 chicks. By this point, the Wildlife Division had begun to rely on volunteers to help collect the data necessary to monitor the population. Nesting territories had radiated throughout the state, and more people were routinely seeing eagles.
 
In the past decade, the number of territories in Connecticut has more than tripled. Nesting eagles are widespread across the state and in every county and major watershed. Eagles commonly nest in suburban and urban areas. Managing information on a rapidly expanding population  is challenging, and without the dedicated observations of knowledgeable and passionate volunteers statewide, it would be virtually impossible. As the eagle population continues to grow, struggling with the number of nests to monitor is a wonderful problem to have.
 
Bald Eagle Productivity, 1994 to 2019
{Graph showing bald eagle productivity from 1994 to 2019}
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bald Eagles by Connecticut Town, 2019
{Map showing bald eagles by Connecticut town, 2019}
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Further Readings:                                        
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Content last updated September 10, 2019.