According to Georgia’s first survey of bald eagle nests in five years, the US national bird is nesting in the state of Peach in record numbers.
Nests around the state housed 227 eagles, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, or about 1.6 birds per nest. This is a slight increase from the 2017 average.
In Georgia, bald eagles are listed as an endangered species.
Survey flights this winter and spring have counted 229 nesting territories. The record in 2017 was 218, according to survey leader Dr. Bob Sargent.
However, less positive news loomed over the study. The eagle population has recently battled its own pandemic – bird flu.
The highly pathogenic bird flu virus has wreaked havoc on eagle habitats across the coast, including in Georgia. Nest’s success has dropped about 30% this year.
But Sargent said there were still reasons for optimism.
“It’s important to remember that the bald eagle population has shown a remarkable rebound over the past 50 years,” he said. “And although coastal nests were affected by the virus, the more than 150 nests elsewhere in the state experienced normal productivity.”
Overall, the Georgia Eagle turnaround has been a success story.
“Following a steep decline in the eagle population in Georgia, the state went from no known successful nests for most of the 1970s to one in 1981, 47 by the turn of the century and more than 200 nesting territories occupied today – about 75% of who are generally successful,” Georgia DNS wrote in a recent press release.