Bald Eagle Breeding Areas Increases, Number Of Nestlings Drops In 2019

A juvenile bald eagle flies away after being released at Horeshoe Lake in June 2019. [Photo courtesy Arizona Game and Fish]

PHOENIX — According to Arizona Game and Fish Department, the annual bald eagle survey this summer found a minimum of 74 occupied breeding areas statewide, which was up from the 69 counted in 2018. Eagle nestlings dipped to 71 during the 2019 breeding season from 87 hatched in 2018.

The number of eggs laid this year dipped slightly to 97 from the 102 counted last year.

Additionally, the number of birds that made the important milestone of their first flight, known as fledging, dipped to 63 from the 70 recorded in 2018.

“While we always hope for Arizona’s bald eagle population to increase, it’s not uncommon for productivity to slow occasionally,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGFD) bald eagle management coordinator. “Similar comparatively lower productivity rates were also seen in 2014 and 2010, so we were due for a slow year. Overall, our eagle population continues to be strong because we continue to see an increase in breeding areas statewide. Our ongoing efforts to help conserve and protect Arizona’s bald eagles appear to be working.”

According to AZGFD, Arizona’s bald eagle population has flourished since 1978, when 11 pairs were counted within the state and the species was listed as endangered. Today there are an estimated 74 adult breeding pairs.

Bald eagles nationwide were removed as a protected species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2007, but protections under the act were reinstated in 2008 in Arizona and remained until 2011. The department’s conservation efforts contributed to the species recovery. Nationally, the birds remain protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

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