Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Eagles and Humans in Conflict

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a state eagle survey found that the breeding population of bald eagles in Virginia has risen from 33 nests in 1977 to 428 last year and 453 this year. This year 657 chicks hatched from those nests. The growth in population has been great, but eagles are running out of places to nest, because development has increasingly taken away prime nesting habitat. The situation is especially critical along the shores of lakes and rivers, where eagles prefer to nest. One good sign is that some pairs of eagles seem to be adapting to the developments by nesting close to homes, at least in areas where tall trees have been left in place.

Eagles have become a fairly common sight inside the Beltway, especially in winter. I know of two nests: one near Little Falls and one just inside the Wilson Bridge. That the latter nest can stay in operation with all the construction going on there amazes me. The second spot is also the first place I saw bald eagles, but that is another story.