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Posted In: Birding

Milestone for James River eagles

September 26, 2013 10:06am

The Center for Conservation Biology put out a news story yesterday that I thought was worth sharing. Maybe you’ve heard of the Center and its director, Bryan Watts, through their work with bald eagles in Virginia. The work isn’t limited just to eagles, but that seems to be what has gotten them the most press. Well, yesterday Watts announced that “the bald eagle breeding population along the historic James River has exceeded 200 pairs for the first time in written history.”

A bald eagle in Washington state.

A bald eagle in Washington state.

The CCB conducts annual aerial surveys of nests along the Chesapeake Bay’s tidal rivers and their 2013 survey of the James yielded a record “205 pairs that produced 267 young. Areas supporting the highest densities include Charles City County (46 pairs), Prince George County (31 pairs), James City County (29 pairs) and Surry County (28 pairs).

“The James River population,” Watts writes, “represents the best example of bald eagle recovery in the nation.”

That’s a pretty strong statement and a testament to the health of the river corridor as a whole. Watts continues: “Since 2000, breeding eagles along the James have more than tripled resulting in one of the densest populations in eastern North America. The dramatic recovery reflects the resiliency of both the bald eagle and James River. This small geographic area now supports more breeding pairs than all surrounding states with the exception of Maryland.”

Click here to read more about the announcement and to see exactly how far eagles on the James have come. And remember when walking along “America’s Founding River” to look up. You never know when a bald eagle will swoop into view.

About Andy Thompson

I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?