ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – More than 60 volunteers and staff at three Albuquerque District lakes spent a January Saturday morning counting eagles during the annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Watch Survey.
A total of 67 eagles were counted Jan. 8, 2022: eight at Abiquiu Lake and 21 at Santa Rosa Lake, both in New Mexico, and 38 at John Martin Reservoir in southern Colorado.
“It’s a great chance for people to get out to the lake in winter and see that there is more to do in Abiquiu than just summer recreation. We counted a total of eight eagles, which is stable with previous years counts,” said John Burman, natural resource specialist at Abiquiu Lake.
As in previous years at the Abiquiu Lake survey, the New Mexico Wildlife Center gave a short educational program about eagles and other possible birds that might be seen during the survey. Then approximately 50 volunteers and Abiquiu staff headed out to count eagles. Of the eight eagles spotted, four were adults and four were juveniles.
We were very happy to have a large turnout of volunteers after not being able to do an in-person count last year,” said Burman. The 2021 Midwinter Bald Eagle Watch Survey was cancelled due to COVID concerns.
This was the first year John Martin Reservoir held an eagle watch survey and eight volunteers turned out to help park rangers count eagles. A total of 38 bald eagles were counted; most of them were sighted on the frozen reservoir.
“Participants reported enjoying the event, and John Martin Reservoir staff plan to make the survey an annual public engagement event,” said Dr. Lily Sweikert, operations project manager at John Martin.
The annual midwinter survey represents a unique source of long-term, baseline data. Unlike nesting surveys, it provides information on both breeding and non-breeding segments of the population, at a potentially limiting time of year.
The count has become a national tradition since 1984 and is an annual event at Abiquiu Lake. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution, and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in the conservation of our national symbol, the bald eagle.