Posted by: rlukei | 2013/09/16

CCB Launches New and Improved Eagle Nest Locator

One of the central missions of The Center for Conservation Biology is to provide information needed by regulatory agencies and the public to enable responsible land-use decisions. Since 2009, CCB has provided bald eagle survey results within an online Google mapping application. This application provides information to regulatory agencies and permit applicants needed to assess potential impacts of construction projects to eagles and allows the public to explore eagle distribution in Virginia. Since its initial launch, the online eagle nest locator has become central to the environmental review process. During 2012 the site was visited more that 40,000 times by regulatory agencies and the public. Access to survey information is changing business and benefiting eagles.

The new Virginia Bald Eagle Nest Locator has several upgrades that were developed in response to requests received by CCB and represent our attempt to better serve the public. Upgrades include 1) updated data for the 2013 breeding season, 2) addition of 100 and 200-m buffers to assist with land planning relative to national and state management guidelines, 3) a search window for navigation to a GPS coordinate or address, and 4) print capability within the internet browser.

CCB would like to express our appreciation to the public for exploring the nest locator and reporting eagle nests that were previously unknown to us. Marie Pitts ( is managing the nest locator and is happy to receive information on unknown nests, questions, and comments.


Adult eagle on nest PG-11-06 shades small chicks in early March along the Appomatox River. This nest produced 3 chicks in 2013. Photo by Bryan Watts


New features of CCB Virginia bald eagle nest locator

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/09/03

Eagles and CCB on NPR Sept 4


Eagle Recovery To Air On NPR’s Morning Edition September 4, 2013

National Public Radio science correspondent Elizabeth Shogren joined Bryan Watts and Courtney Turrin on a survey of bald eagles along the James River as part of a story focused on recovery. In addition to counting more than 100 eagles the group discussed the dramatic recovery of the species along the historic river and the behavioral shifts that are currently underway as the population approaches its carrying capacity. One of the best examples of eagle recovery on the continent, the James River population has increased from no breeding pairs in the mid-1970s to a record 205 in 2013. The ecological changes associated with this recovery are still unfolding. The story will air on NPR’s Morning Edition on September 4.

Photo Caption

National Public Radio science correspondent Elizabeth Shogren records river sounds while graduate student Courtney Turrin watches for eagles. The two were out on the James River to discuss bald eagle recovery with Bryan Watts. Photo by Bryan Watts.

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/08/29

Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch Association

Dr. Bryan Watts to Address Massachusetts Raptor Enthusiasts

On Friday September 6, 2013 Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of The Center for Conservation Biology, will deliver a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch Association. The lecture will focus on the breeding ecology, recovery, and conservation challenges of the Chesapeake Bay bald eagle population. The hawk watch association is a 200-member organization dedicated to the monitoring and conservation of raptor populations. The lecture will be held in Medford, MA (northwest of Boston) and is open to the public. If you would like to attend, visit to find meeting details.

Photo – Dr. Watts holds an adult female trapped in the upper Chesapeake Bay. – Photo bt Bart Paxton


On Monday July 22, 2013 two fishermen discovered an adult bald eagle floating in the James River near The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA. They took the bird to a marina where it was then transported to Lisa Barlow, a licensed rehabilator in Virginia Beach and Director of Wildlife Response, Inc. An examination showed that other than being soaking wet, the eagle was not injured. On Tuesday the eagle was measured and banded with purple band KW and USGS band 0679-01383. Measurements indicated the bald eagle is a male and is perhaps the male on the nest on property at Mariners’ Museum. In the afternoon of July 23, 2013 the eagle was released by Lisa Barlow near that nest site in a large open field. The eagle flew perfectly and disapeared into the trees surrounding the field.

Photos below courtesy and copyright of Lisa Barlow


Photos below Copyright Reese F Lukei Jr

Bald Eagle Banding KW 2013 006Bald Eagle Banding KW 2013 008

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/07/23

James River Bald Eagle Population Sets Record

James River Eagles Break Through

By Dr Bryan Watts, Director, The Center for Conservation Biology

The bald eagle population along the historic James River has exceeded 200 pairs for the first time in written history. The 2013 aerial survey conducted by The Center for Conservation Biology recorded 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 represents the best example of bald eagle recovery in the nation. By the early 1960s the once thriving population had been reduced to below 15 pairs due to environmental contaminants and by the mid-1970s no pairs remained along the river. Following the decline of banned compounds like DDT, recovery began with a single pair in 1980. Recovery was slow in the early years and as recent as 2000 the river supported only 57 pairs that produced 85 young.

Since 2000, breeding eagles along the James River 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 the James River. This small geographic area now supports more breeding pairs than all surrounding states with the exception of Maryland.


Photo – Dr Bryan Watts – Adult feeding chicks in nest within Charles City County

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/06/22

HK Is Becoming an Adult

HK is the brother to Azalea (HH), both of whom were banded at their nest site at Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA on April 29, 2009. HK hatched March 21, 2009 so is now beginning his 5th year and in his present plumage is known as basic/subadult IV with some brown feathers on his head especially behind his eyes. The tail feathers (rectrices) have some dark markings noteably on the tips.

HK has constructed a nest this past fall and winter on the Honey Bee Golf Course in Virginia Beach, VA and continues to be seen in the area of the golf course. Yesterday, June 21, 2013, Pam Monahan who has been diligent in monitoring the presence of HK, took this photograph of HK behind Rosemont Forest Elementary School, which is adjacent to the golf course, and overlooking the North Landing River that flows behind the school. (photo copyright Pam Monahan)

HK June 21 2013 Pam Monahan

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/06/16

How Long Do Fledgling Bald Eagles Stay Home?

Questions abound this time of year about bald eagles that are just leaving their nest tree (fledging) for the first time. At what age do they fledge? Do the adults continue to take care of them? For how long? How long do the fledglings remain in the nest territory (natal area)? Where do they go on their first flight away from home?

Close nest monitoring and satellite and cell technology are helping to answer these questions (and many more). Three bald eagles from local nests in Norfolk (Norfolk Botanical Garden) and Virginia Beach (Saw Pen Point) are helping provide the data that answers these questions. Observations and satellite data from Azalea and Camellia and cell data from KE provides the following:

Azalea hatched March 22, 2009, fledged June 13, 2009 (84 days), left natal area August 17, 2009 (66 days) and flew to Tulls Bay in Currituck County, NC.

Camellia hatched March 11, 2010, fledged May 27, 2010 (78 days), left natal area July 13, 2010 (48 days) and flew to Williamsburg, VA.

KE hatched March 31, 2012, fledged June 14, 2012 (76 days), left natal area July 29, 2012 (46 days) and flew to Piankatank River in Middlesex County, VA.

Yesterday, June 15, 2013 I accompanied Shelly Fowler to the location where she has been assisting Courtney Turrin, a William & Mary (Center for Conservation Biology) graduate student, gather data about the bald eagles at the nest on Saw Pen Point in Virginia Beach (same nest KE is from). Three young eagles have been raised in this nest, one of which fledged June 10 and another June 12. Not sure if the third had fledged. As we arrived the adult female left the nest and went into a very high soar directly over head and out of sight. Shelly and I could see that there were two juveniles in the nest. Then the adult male flew in with a fish (photo) and like magic the third juvenile appeared in the nest (photo). The male left and the third juvenile moved to a lower branch (photo). Another question answered. Yes, the adults do continue to care for their young after they fledge. (Photos copyright Michele Fowler). Click on photos to enlarge.

6-15-13-3346_male_with_fish Shelly Fowler6-15-13-3372_male_with_chicks Shelly Fowler3 chicks in nest 061513 Shelly Fowler

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/06/14

Urban Raised Juvenile Bald Eagles Fledging

Throughout the mid-atlantic region young bald eagles are taking to the air for their first time. A portion of these fledglings are coming out of urban nests where they have grown up watching people and all their daily activities. They have become habituated to our human sounds, movements, our houses and motor vehicles. Bald eagles that are hatched and raised in their typical habitat away from all these human activites are wary of us and tend to avoid contact with us.

Not so with these urban reared bald eagles. Here in the southeast corner of Virginia these urban eagles are being seen launching for the first time from nest trees in peoples yards, sitting on the side of roadways, on rooftops, even on porches looking at their reflection in windows. Some of them allow us to approach to within 10 feet or so before moving away. Unfortunately, some people think that because these eagles are on the ground or our rooftops that they are injured and need to be rescued. Rarely is that the case. Most usually they are just checking us out. Some may be on their first or second flight and just need to rest before taking flight again. Give them some time. Take their photos. In a short time they will take to the air on their own without our help.Eagles Saw Pen 2013 014


Eagles Saw Pen 2013 016

First flight from nest in Witchduck area of Virginia Beach (Photos Reese Lukei, Jr)

Eagle juvie BBNWR - Walt Tegge 061313

On side of roadway in Virginia Beach (Photo Walt Tegge)

Eagle Arrowhead Point 2013 013Eagle Arrowhead Point 2013 056

Sitting on rooftops in Thoroughgood section of Virginia Beach (Photos Reese Lukei Jr)

0607_1919_copyA_8 Mike Inman0607_2004_copyA14x11_8 Mike Inman

Juveniles in flight in Norfolk, VA (Photos Mike Inman)


Posted by: rlukei | 2013/06/09

HK at Rosemont Forest June 9, 2013

Viewers have inquired as to whether HK has been seen lately along the North Landing at Honey Bee Golf Course. On the north edge of the golf course is Rosemont Forest Elementary School. HK was there today. Proof comes from Pam Monahan who captured this great photo of HK flying overhead this afternoon. Photo copyright and used with permission.

HK June 8 2013 Pam Monahan


Report from Dr. Bryan Watts, Director The Center For Conservation Biology

The pair of eagles that have taken up residence within the dunes of a Virginia barrier island have fledged 2 chicks. The chicks have been observed flying around the island and appear to be progressing well. On Thursday June 6, 2013 while flying a shorebird survey, Bryan Watts took this photo showing the adult perched on an overturned myrtle shrub and one of the young in the nest feeding on an egret. The pair appears to be feeding heavily on local waterbirds and diamondback terrapins.

Ground_Eagles_Watts_reduction June 6 2013

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