We have been getting a lot of great photographs of bald eagles sent to our Facebook page this winter. It wasn't that long ago that Vermont had its very first recorded pair of nesting bald eagles and now the count is on to see how many of these big birds live here year-round.
Margaret Fowle is a conservation biologist with Audubon Vermont. She is at the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison looking for bald eagles. It is part of Audubon's mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey.
"Today I am on Dead Creek and I am looking along the creek here and I have seen one eagle. I think I have seen it a few times but I am pretty sure its the same bird. It's an adult with a pretty white head and tail maybe not more than 4 years old because it takes a little while for them to get that pure white head and tail. And he has been pretty skittish, so it's been hard to get a good look at him," said Fowle.
There are actually two parts to the survey. Fowle is checking out just one route. Her count will be added to a federal survey that is run by the United States Geological Survey, which relies on citizen scientists.
"Margaret says on Saturday more than 30 volunteers will be searching along the White River, the Connecticut River, the Winooski River and Lake Champlain to try to get a one day count of the big birds," said Fowler.
Vermont's bald eagle population is seeing slow steady progress since the first nesting pair was reported in 2003. The winter count keeps an eye on how many are making Vermont their home, year-round.
"It's a great story, they are still endangered in Vermont, they are not endangered federally but they are probably close to being taken down a notch to threatened status in Vermont," said Fowle.
Fowle expects the total number of bald eagles wintering in Vermont will be about 50, and she says it depends heavily on how much open water there is around the state.
PO Box 4508