Eagle count up this year | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Eagle count up this year

Andy Bourelle

The U.S. Forest Service confirmed the presence of 12 eagles in the Lake Tahoe Basin as a result of this year’s bald eagle survey.

During the Lake Tahoe Basin Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey on Jan. 15, nine were sighted in California, three in Nevada.

The number of eagles using the Lake Tahoe Basin as a winter foraging area is up significantly since the survey began in 1979, when only two were counted. Last year, seven eagles were reported.

Results of the survey will be compiled with bald eagle surveys nationwide by the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey to determine bald eagle population trends and changes in distribution within the United States since 1979.

Forty-three volunteers participated in this year’s survey in addition to students from South Tahoe Middle School.

In the 1979 survey, 772 were observed in California and more than 9,000 nationwide. Last year, 1,091 were observed in California and more than 14,000 nationwide.

Most of Tahoe’s bald eagles nest in northern areas with harsh winters, such as Alaska and British Columbia, and migrate south, looking to winter at large bodies of open water. In Tahoe, they start arriving around October, about the same time the kokanee salmon return to Taylor Creek to spawn. They stay until about March.

There was no evidence of any bald eagles nesting in the basin since 1970 until recent years. The Forest Service has confirmed at least one pair has nested at Tahoe in 1997 and 1998. And because bald eagles typically nest within 100 miles of where they were raised, wildlife officials are hopeful more nesting will occur in upcoming years.

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