Arizona's Bald Eagles Hit it Out of the Park in 2011
Arizona’s bald eagles continue to flourish in the state with three record breeding achievements in 2011. With the last bald eagle nestling out of the nest, biologists declared that a record number of breeding areas were occupied; a record number of eggs were laid; and, a record number of fledgling birds took to Arizona’s skies.
This year, at least 79 eggs were laid, a record 55 breeding areas were occupied, and 56 nestlings fledged. These record breaking numbers indicate that the species’ breeding population in Arizona continues to grow.
Getting a young nestling to the critical point of fledging, or taking its first flight, is perhaps one of the best indicators of a successful breeding season, and in 2011, 10 more fledglings conquered that major milestone compared to the year prior.
“Seeing the continual year-after-year growth of the bald eagle breeding population in Arizona is extremely gratifying for all of the partners involved in intensely managing the species,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department bald eagle management coordinator. “The Southwest Bald Eagle Management Committee’s years of cooperative conservation efforts, including extensive monitoring by the Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program, continue to pay off and help this riparian-dependent population grow in a desert environment.”
Continued support from the committee and the Heritage Fund, generated from lottery ticket sales, will help ensure that Arizona’s bald eagles continue breaking records.
Bald eagle management falls under the careful watch of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and a coalition of 24 other partners – through the Southwest Bald Eagle Management Committee – including government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes.
The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona typically runs from December through June, although a few bald eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state. This year, bald eagles nesting above the Mogollon Rim at Crescent and Luna lakes also faced the challenges of the Wallow Fire that threatened their nesting areas. Both nests succeeded in producing fledglings despite the fire.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department, a leading partner in recovery efforts for the species, attributes the success to cooperative on-the-ground management, including monitoring and survey flights; seasonal closures of critical breeding habitat during the breeding season; eagle rescue efforts; contaminants analysis; and a nestwatch program to protect breeding activities.
For more information on Arizona’s bald eagles, visit www.azgfd.gov/baldeagle or www.swbemc.org.