Bald eagles nested in Vermont in record numbers this year. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife says 21-pairs of adult bald eagles produced 35 young.
Bald eagles remain on the state's endangered species list, but John Buck, bird biologist for Vermont Fish and Wildlife, says if the trend continues for the next four years the bird could be off the list.
"What we would want to see in terms of numbers is somewhere around 40 pairs of eagles that are producing one chick per year over a five year average," he explained. "We're getting close. We're at perhaps the first year of that threshold now. Ten years ago we didn't even have any breeding pairs of eagles. In just 10 years we've approached what we consider the first year of a de-listing status."
Buck says that improved shoreline habitat, including mature white pines have encouraged breeding pairs of eagles from other parts of the region to nest along the major waterways including Lake Champlain and the Connecticut River. The eagles are coming to Vermont from New York and New England where those populations are expanding. The eagles are finding lots of space in Vermont.
"A lot of the success for bald eagles right now is that they a lot of the unoccupied habitat that we have in Vermont. The species has been absent since the mid-1940s and has just now starting to make a comeback in Vermont," Buck said.
Common Loons also had a record year with 93 newly fledged birds. Peregrine Falcons continued their nesting success this year as well with 63 young birds. Both of those species were removed from the endangered species list in 2005.
Buck says it's important to give nesting birds space and view them from a distance. This time of year bald eagles are migrating and can be seen in most regions in Vermont.