A total of 1,070 occupied bald eagle nests were counted in this year's survey by the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary. It's the first time more than 1,000 have been counted since the survey started 60 years ago.

This marks a remarkable comeback for the bird whose population had dropped to just 20 pairs in the state in 1970, said Bryan D. Watts, the center's director.

The eagle's resurgence in Virginia is part of a nationwide recovery, hailed as a great conservation success story involving habitat preservation and the banning of certain pesticides.

Once decimated by DDT and other pollutants, the national bird was one of the first species put on the Endangered Species List, in 1967. They were delisted in 2007, and there are now 10,000 nesting pairs nationwide, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Mitchell Byrd is retired professor who has been doing the Virginia survey for 40 years. When he started, he wouldn't see a single nest along the James River. He's heartened to see so many bald eagles now.

"It's indicative of what we as a species can do," Byrd said, "if we set our minds to it."

This year's survey found nesting pairs in 57 Virginia counties and 12 cities, with some of the highest concentrations near the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. Many of their offspring — too young still to have their iconic white plumage — also were spotted.

The Chesapeake Bay watershed is a prime feeding ground in both summer and winter, drawing the eagles from as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida.

Watts said their breeding space is now at a premium, so their population growth should begin slowing. An increasing number of injuries and deaths related to intra-species combat is one telltale sign of how crowded they've become.

Another is the speed at which a mate is replaced. Bald eagles typically mate for life, but when one partner dies now, Watts said "there is a string of suitors immediately that comes into that space."

Responses to "Virginia's bald eagles thriving at a never before seen level after pesticides ban."

  1. Unknown says:

    I find eagles and wolves fantastic..

  2. Unknown says:


  3. Unknown says:

    Very good news indeed. And wonderful photographs!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Aren't Bald Eagles scavengers?

  5. Unknown says:

    Send some of them to Kansas where we still have plenty of spaces for nests.

  6. Unknown says:

    I want to know what SPECIFIC PESTICIDES were banned that helped the Eagles to "recover" their numbers? Those pesticides should be banned world wide!

  7. Unknown says:

    DDT bad stuff!!

  8. ddt was banned and made the eggs have a decent shell as well as other things.

  9. What year are we talking about here, please

  10. Unknown says:

    So, there was no mention of what pesticide was banned to achieve this wonderful result. Does anyone know?

  11. I love this, and take notice one Eagle isn’t white but yet he sits there among the white Bald Eagles they don’t turn and fly away they stay together.

  12. Unknown says:

    First eagle's nest I watched was in Virginia, near an airport. After a few years, the nest tree was taken down due to the dangers involved for the eagle family. Thus started a lifetime of watching eagles' nests. Thanks.

  13. Erik says:

    Bald Eagle's? Virginia? That's a neighboring state! WoooH, have to check that out!

  14. Unknown says:

    Add social media share links to your landing pages!!!

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