Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Bald eagle population continues robust recovery

STACEY COLE December 27. 2013 9:07PM

A personal word, please. By the time you read this column both my birthday and Christmas Day 2013, will have become history. Thank you so very much for the many birthday and Christmas cards containing your best wishes. Each was most appreciated, believe me.

In addition, many of you may have either given or received a copy of my book, "Stacey Cole's New Hampshire," published by the Plaidswede Publishers of Concord. It is dedicated to our readers of "Nature Talks" throughout these past nearly 52 years.

"Stacey Cole's New Hampshire" contains reprints of several former columns that readers had requested be placed in book form. Many of these describe my personal and, occasionally, emotional recollections, of this beautiful state that God created for us. Within these, I may have been looking at a sunrise or sunset, or a hay field in summer or winter; or my recollection of celebrating special holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. My hope is that when you look closely at the world around us, it is important that you cherish what you see and how you feel. When I write about a few of the people I've known, you may be carried back in time as you recall relatives or old friends and how they did things in their "good-old" days. Please enjoy it.

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The Winter 2013-2014, edition of "NH Audubon Afield" contains the results of 2013 bald eagle breeding season. It was prepared by Chris Martin, and reads as follows: "New Hampshire's state-threatened bald eagle population continued its robust recovery during the 2013 breeding season. The number of territorial breeding pairs in the Granite State increased from 35 pairs in 2012 to 40 pairs in 2013. Overall, since the late 1990s, our state's breeding population has been doubling roughly every 4-5 years and the number of young eagles fledged has been growing at a similar rate. For example, we tallied only two fledgling eagles in the state as recently as 2000, but this past summer we counted a new record high of 35 young fledged from a total of 21 successful nests.

"Nests located near the Merrimack River on the outskirts of Manchester and Nashua both succeeded for the first time this season, each producing two young. Breeding success in Manchester is especially sweet, happening in the same tree we selected for construction of a human-built nest a decade ago. Meanwhile, at the opposite end of the state, a recently discovered nest in Pittsburg also fledged two chicks. Elsewhere in the state, new nests were confirmed at Martin Meadow Pond in Lancaster, on the Ammonoosuc River in Lisbon, and on Mascoma Lake in Enfield. And after multiple false starts, a nesting pair at Bow Lake finally fledged a chick.

"Harsh weather focused on the Lakes Region this spring may have been responsible for nest failure of at least six pairs, including at Newfound, Province, Silver and Squam lakes. These losses were really the only bad news coming out of the state's 2013 eagle breeding season.

"Seeing a bald eagle on your local lake or river might still come as a surprise, but when you break down the various segments of the state's 2013 population it isn't hard to understand why sightings are increasingly common. Add up New Hampshire's 40 territorial pairs (that's 80 individuals) plus their 35 fledged young, and you get a total of 115 birds. Then double that figure (at least) to account for many transient immature eagles in the one-, two-, and three-year-old cohorts. Put all this together, it isn't a stretch to arrive at an estimate of 230-250 eagles across the Granite State at the close of the summer of 2013!

"Bald eagle monitoring and management work in New Hampshire is supported through a generous multi-year grant provided by TransCanada Corporation's Northeast Hydro Division, with additional funds from N.H. Fish and Game's State Wildlife Grants. We also receive support from other wildlife donors and from many volunteer observers. And we are so very fortunate to have collaborative support from professional colleagues in Maine, Massachusetts and Vermont."

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Our long-time reader friends who reside in Henniker sent a birthday card with a beautiful bald eagle photo on its face. They wrote in part: "The fall birds were as wonderful as usual. Northern juncos, white-throats, tree sparrows, and at one point, six beautiful fox sparrows. During the summer our bird feeding ceased with bears watching during daylight hours. We both missed the birds. As we sat at our picnics frequently we were visited by a bear 'woofing' at us. Friends and neighbors were terrified and left!

"Winter birds are so great! 'Charlie' (Charlene?) our red-bellied woodpecker still comes to the suet."

Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey, 03446.

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