An eagle nest in a hardwood -- not the norm -- at Lake Walter F. George in Quitman County. The nest was spotted during DNR's bald eagle nest survey flights this year.
The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has documented the most bald eagle nests ever found in the state, more than 200 sites that show eagle nesting levels in Georgia continue to soar.
According to preliminary results of aerial surveys done in January and March, the DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section counted 210 occupied nesting territories, 166 successful nests and 270 young fledged.
These totals – the highest recorded for each category– are consistent with the steady increase in bald eagle nesting seen in previous years. Considering that this iconic raptor was virtually absent from Georgia as recently as 40 years ago, that trend and these recent findings are cause for celebration.
Survey leader Jim Ozier has witnessed the dramatic recovery firsthand: Ozier began monitoring bald eagle nesting almost three decades ago. At that time, nests numbered in the single digits. He credits the species’ recovery to coordinated conservation efforts and the public contributions that make those efforts possible.
"Georgia's nesting bald eagle population continues its impressive expansion, exemplifying conservation success through agency cooperation and public support,” said Ozier, a Nongame Conservation Section program manager with DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. “And eagles are doing their part by adaptively co-existing with people in many instances.”
The resurgence of bald eagles is supported in part by Georgians who contribute to the Georgia Nongame Wildlife Conservation Fund by buying or renewing a wildlife license plate – the bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird designs. Most fees for the plates benefit the more than 1,000 Georgia plant and animal species listed as species of conservation concern.
The state is also home to one of the world’s best-known eagle nests – the Berry College nest live-streamed by the northwest Georgia school at www.berry.edu/eaglecam. Berry also shares the stream with DNR at www.georgiawildlife.com/berryeaglecam.
Georgians can alert Ozier to eagle nests they find by reporting them online (www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/eaglenest) or by phone (478-994-1438). These reports often lead to previously undocumented nests. DNR works with landowners to help protect eagle nests on their property.
Bald eagles are no longer listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, but they are protected by federal and state law.
Eagle surveys are part of the DNR Nongame Conservation Section’s mission to conserve nongame wildlife – native animals not legally hunted or fished for – and native plants and natural habitats. The section depends largely on license plates and other fundraisers for this work.