ABIQUIU LAKE, N.M. – Forty-three volunteers took advantage of nice weather to attend the annual Midwinter Bald Eagle Watch and Survey event held at the lake, Saturday, Jan. 7, 2023.
“The 2023 Abiquiu Lake Eagle Watch was a great success, with more than 40 volunteers showing up to the event and a total of six eagles being observed,” said John Burman, lead park ranger at Abiquiu Lake.
Before heading out to look for eagles, Abiquiu Lake park ranger Brady Dunne and local biologist Kathrine Eagleson gave a presentation on identifying eagles and other birds that the volunteers might see.
During the count, Abiquiu Lake staff and the volunteers manned three fixed observation points on the shore and used two boats on the lake to cover as much area as possible.
“A calm, sunny day allowed watchers to observe four mature bald eagles, one immature bald eagle, and one immature golden eagle,” said Burman, for a total of six eagles counted.
The basic objectives of the survey are to index the total wintering bald eagle population in the lower 48 states; to determine eagle distribution during a standardized survey period; and to identify previously unrecognized areas of important winter habitat.
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.
“It is a great opportunity for participants to get outside on their public lands and waters to not only learn about our national bird and observe them in their natural habitat, but actively take part in their preservation by gathering data on population trends and age class,” said John Mueller, Abiquiu Lake Operations Project Manager.