FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DNR SURVEY: BALD EAGLE NESTING TOPS 200 AGAIN
SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 26, 2016) – More than 200 bald eagle nests have been documented in Georgia for the second straight year, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
Aerial surveys started in January and finished this month counted 201 occupied nesting territories, 149 successful nests and 240 young fledged. Those totals are slightly lower than last year’s 210 territories, 170 successful nests and 270 fledglings, survey leader Bob Sargent said.
Yet 2015 marked the first time since surveys began that the statewide nest count topped 200, and Sargent, a DNR Nongame Conservation Section program manager, suggested that the difference between 201 and 210 nesting territories is negligible. “We have data since 1978, and there were several years where the upward trend briefly leveled out or dropped slightly.”
Despite this year’s dip, the overall trend still points upward for the national bird in Georgia.
Mirroring a comeback across the species’ range, bald eagles have rebounded in Georgia, going from no known nests in 1970 to nests this year in at least 63 counties, from Camden to Walker. Factors feeding the recovery included a U.S. ban on DDT use in 1972, habitat improvements following enactment of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts, protection through the Endangered Species Act, increased public awareness, restoration of local populations through release programs, and forest regrowth.
“Parts of the state have nests where you wouldn’t expect them,” Sargent said, referring to sites far from the coast, reservoirs or rivers where the fish-eating raptors tend to concentrate.
But there are areas of concern, he said. Along the Savannah River reservoirs, for example, nest totals are lower than expected. A likely culprit is avian vacuolar myelinopathy, or AVM, a neurological disease deadly to coots and bald eagles. Research led by the University of Georgia is trying to assess the impact at Clarks Hill Lake, or J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, an AVM hotspot. As recently as 1998 there were 8 nesting territories recorded at this reservoir.
Sargent also noted the unexpected downside of an increased eagle population, such as more birds being hit by cars as the eagles, mostly sub-adults, eat roadkill, and incidents of eagles being shot. Although de-listed from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2007, bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and state law.
The public is encouraged to let DNR know about any eagle nests they find by reporting them online (www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/eaglenest), by phone (478-994-1438) or by email ([email protected]). These reports often lead to undocumented nests. DNR works with landowners to help protect those on private property. One tip: Ospreys and their nests are sometimes confused with eagles’, so if not sure, check out the differences online.
Sargent also explained that eagle nesting pairs and their young do not represent an actual count of all bald eagles in Georgia. Considering that it takes eagles at least five years to reach adulthood, and even then many won’t nest for one to three years, “There are likely at least twice that many more eagles in the state, especially in the late-fall and early winter months when northern birds migrate south,” he said.
The surveys are part of the DNR Nongame Conservation Section’s mission to conserve nongame wildlife – native animals not legally hunted or fished for – and native plants and natural habitats.
The resurgence of bald eagles is supported in part by Georgians who buy or renew a wildlife license plate – the bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird designs. These plates cost only $25 more than a standard state license plate and $19 of each purchase and $20 of each annual renewal goes to conserve the hundreds of Georgia plant and animal species listed as species of conservation concern. Learn more at www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/support. See how that support is put to workwww.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport.
Occupied eagle nest territories: 201 (28 percent more than the most recent 10-year average)
- Successful nests: 149 (81 in 2006)
- Young fledged: 240 (125 in 2006)
- Counties with active nests: 63 (62 in 2015)
- Lead nest counties: Chatham, 22; Decatur, 19; Camden, 13; Glynn, 10, McIntosh, 10; Liberty, 7
- A wetter than normal winter may have slowed the start of nesting in 2016, especially in north and southwest Georgia. “There were 16 eagles still incubating eggs during the second round of flights (March 15-April 8),” with half of those nests in southwest Georgia, according to DNR’s Bob Sargent.
SUMMARY OF RELEASES
- 11th YOUTH BIRDING EVENT ‘RAISES BAR,’ BREAKS RECORD AGAIN
- LOOKING FOR SUMMERTIME ACTIVITIES FOR THE KIDS? LOTS OF FUN PLANNED FOR CAMPERS AT CHARLIE ELLIOTT WILDLIFE CENTER
- RBFF ANNOUNCES 2016 STATE INNOVATIVE R3 PROGRAM GRANTEES
Wildlife Resources Division contact:
Tim Keyes, Youth Birding Competition coordinator – (912) 262-3191; [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
11th YOUTH BIRDING EVENT ‘RAISES BAR,’ BREAKS RECORD AGAIN
SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 27, 2016) – Another Georgia Youth Birding Competition, another birding record.
The 11th annual competition held last weekend set a new high for bird species seen or heard by a team, while also adding to the event’s legacy of spurring an appreciation of birds among youth ages 4 to 18.
About 100 searched the state for birds during the 24-hour contest held Friday through Saturday by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, part of the Department of Natural Resources. Two 16-year-olds from Gwinnet County, the Eagle Maniacs, were the overall winners with 170 species, three more than the top count last year, the previous record.
“The bar just keeps rising,” said competition coordinator Tim Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.
John Deitsch of Duluth and Jon Robbins of Alpharetta raised the bar this year by weathering a Friday evening storm on Jekyll Island and a late-night drive that allowed them to bird north Georgia hotspots such as Kennesaw Mountain early the next morning.
Both are longtime participants in the competition. Robbins said he enjoys birding for the variety of species, colors and calls. Deitsch agreed. “Every time you go out, you see something different.”
The event included participants of different skill levels and as many as 10 first-time teams. There was also a T-shirt art contest that drew 163 entries. Birders turning in their species checklists Saturday were given shirts featuring an Anna’s hummingbird drawn and painted by Anna Zhu, 14, of Alpharetta, an eighth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth. Zhu’s artwork was the grand-prize winner.
In another part of the competition, teams raised $1,679 for conservation, a voluntary part of the event that pushed the 11-year total past $20,000. The Chaotic Kestrels, a high school team, led with $1,162. With the money raised, teams chose to sponsor the Race4Birds Foundation, Nongame Conservation Section, The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, and the Jekyll Island bird banding station.
The Youth Birding Competition is aimed at cultivating an interest in birds and conservation. Sponsors include TERN, friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section; Georgia Ornithological Society; and, the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies. The event’s reach is being multiplied by Race4Birds (www.race4birds.org), a foundation that is helping spread the Youth Birding Competition concept.
Running from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday, this year’s event ended with a wildlife program and awards banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Teams, divided by age group, used as much of the 24-hour period as members wanted to count bird species in the state.
Four division winners in the T-shirt art contest were chosen beforehand and the art of native Georgia birds displayed at the banquet. Zhu’s entry led the middle school category. Winning entries are posted in the “2016 YBC T-shirt Art Contest Winners” album at www.flickr.com/photos/wildliferesourcesdivision.
The Youth Birding Competition and T-shirt Art Contest are free. The 2017 event is set for April 29-30.
DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section works to conserve Georgia’s rare and endangered wildlife, as well as other animals not legally hunted or fished for, plus native plants and natural habitats. The agency depends largely on grants, direct contributions and fundraisers such as sales and renewals of the bald eagle and hummingbird license plates.
Visit www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).
The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, is a nonprofit advocacy group that supports nongame conservation in Georgia. Details at http://tern.homestead.com.
YOUTH BIRDING COMPETITION RESULTS
High school division
- Eagle Maniacs (170 species), and overall competition winner
- (tie) Chaotic Kestrels and Florida Scrub Jays (168 species)
Middle school division
- Wood Thrushes (155 species)
- Beautiful Bluebirds (69 species)
- BBQ Chickens (68 species)
Elementary school division
- Amazing Anhingas (65 species)
- Kingsley Cardinals (60 species)
- Audubon Adventures (54 species)
Primary school division
- Bufford Bluebirds (33 species)
- Wild Redbirds (23 species)
- Rock Star Red-tailed Hawks (16 species)
FUNDRAISING (division leaders)
- Chaotic Kestrels, high school division and overall top fundraiser, raising $1,162.
- Wood Thrushes, $367 – middle school division
- Bufford Bluebirds, $130 – primary division
Fundraising for conservation is voluntary.
TOP ROOKIE TEAMS (first-year teams)
Primary – Bufford Bluebirds (33 species)
Elementary – Audubon Adventures (54 species)
Middle school – Ugly Ducklings (56)
T-SHIRT ART CONTEST
- Primary division: blue jay by Karla Frankova of Duluth, 8, second-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth.
- Elementary: yellow-rumped warbler by Sophia Cheng of Duluth, 10, fifth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.
- Middle school and grand prize: Anna’s hummingbird by Anna Zhu of Alpharetta, 14, eighth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.
- High school: eastern bluebird by Mya Odum of Conyers, 16, 11th-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.
Art contest division winners received $50 gift cards to Michael’s. The grand-prize winner received a $100 gift card to Michael’s, and the artwork was featured on the 2016 Youth Birding Competition T-shirt.
MORE ON THE NET
For more information, contact:
Melissa Cummings, Communications/Outreach Specialist: 706.557.3326; [email protected]
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LOOKING FOR SUMMERTIME ACTIVITIES FOR THE KIDS? LOTS OF FUN PLANNED FOR CAMPERS AT CHARLIE ELLIOTT WILDLIFE CENTER
MANSFIELD, Ga. (April 27, 2016) –Let your child explore their “wildness” learning about wildlife at a Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center summer camp. Camps accommodate ages 7-16 and offer everything from birding and wildlife activities, to shooting, to learning camping and survival skills.
Camps are targeted to the age of the camper, so activities, hours of the camp, and learning materials and information is appropriate in order to help engage and educate that particular participant.
Day camps for younger kids include Charlie’s Trackers and Wildlife Rangers. Overnight camps include Camp TALON (Teen Adventures Learning Ornithology and Nature), Outdoor Adventure Team Challenge, Wild and Wonderful Garden Club Camp and Shooting Sports Camp. More information about activities that take place at each camp found at www.georgiawildlife.com/charlieelliott/camps.
To get to CEWC, take I-20 to Exit 98. Travel south on Highway 11, go through Mansfield and continue three miles south to the entrance at Marben Farm Road on the left.
For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott/camps , or call 770-784-3059.
|For more information: Stephanie Vatalaro, 703-778-5156, [email protected]|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE