Volunteer eagle spotters are being recruited for the 5th annual eagle survey to be conducted March 10 in southern West Virginia.
“Sightings of golden and bald eagles in the Pipestem and Bluestone state park areas are more and more frequent,” according to Pipestem Naturalist Jim Phillips. “Conducting surveys and recording eagle sightings confirms that this raptor remains in our area year-round.”
In January 2008, survey participants noted nine bald eagles and one golden eagle. By January 2012, they reported a total of 19 bald eagles and one golden. “Not to be cliché’ – but the eagles have landed in southern West Virginia,” Phillips said.
The March 10 survey focus is New River and major tributaries. Survey points are still available in the Bluestone WMA (Mouth of Indian Creek, Shanklin’s Ferry, Cedar Branch), New River Gorge north of Sandstone Falls, Greenbrier River above Talcott, Bluestone River (Pipestem State Park and upstream), and Indian Creek. “Since the January 2012 count, we have seen eagles along the Bluestone River, Indian Creek near Greenville and Greenbrier River between Lowell and Pence Springs,” Phillips said.
Participants are organized into groups of experienced birders mixed with first timers. The eagle watchers also look for breeding evidence such as birds carrying sticks and grasses or taking food somewhere other than the closest tree or bank.
The four-hour survey runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Participants do not meet prior to the count. Phillips pre-assigns survey locations. Worksheets to record data and directions to stations are provided via email. Participants meet at Hinton Dairy Queen after the survey to tally numbers and discuss the day. Pre-registration is required prior to March 7, 2012. Individuals wanting to participate must pre-register by contacting Jim Phillips at 304-466-1800 or by emailing PipestemSP@wv.gov. Emails should include your name, phone number and email address and the subject line should read “March 10 Eagle Count.”
“We encourage anyone interested in seeing eagles and to help with the count to join the survey,” Phillips said.