The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Abiquiu Lake hosted its annual midwinter eagle watch Jan. 7, and it was a record count for both eagles, 17, and volunteers, 61.
Employees were surprised when nearly twice as many volunteers arrived to participate as the previous record and when seeing nine mature and eight immature Bald Eagles.
“We weren’t expecting as many eagles this year, due to the warmer weather which allows the eagles to stay up north longer,” said Acting Lake Operations Manager Eric Garner. “It was great to see some folks participate who saw an eagle in the wild for the first time.”
District employees who helped with the event were Eric Garner, Philip Martinez, Austin Kuhlman, Nick Bailey, Albert Branch, Roger Apodaca and Paul Branch.
Since 1984, the National Wildlife Federation has asked participants in each state to count eagles along standard routes to provide data trends. 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 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. In addition to providing information on eagle trends, distribution and habitat, the count has helped to create public interest in the conservation of Bald Eagles.
The Corps plays a significant role in recovery efforts of the Bald Eagle by supporting eagle conservation, including breeding season and midwinter surveys, management of habitat, education and outreach. For more information on the eagle watch or about Abiquiu Lake, call the project office at 505-685-4371.