One of the favorite birds of all time for ornithologists (that’s a fancy name for bird watchers) is the American Bald Eagle. It has become the national symbol of the United States, against the urgings of Ben Franklin who deemed the wild turkey more worthy of the honor.
For those in West Virginia looking for eagles, mark the date January 13 on your calendar. That is the date of this year’s first Eagle survey held at Pipestem State Park. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day bird enthusiasts will be assigned various stations throughout the park to record sightings of both golden and bald eagles.
If it practice you need beforehand, Pipestem State Park has also arranged for outings with expert Jim Phillips on January 7 and January 8. These ‘eagle watch” events will involve driving to certain park sites to watch for eagles.
The American Bald Eagle had been on the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species for many years. In 2007, the Department of the Interior took the species off the list as the bird had made a remarkable comeback. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has said that nesting bald eagle pairs in the lower 48 states has increased significantly since the early 1960s when their survey found about 450 pairs. Today that number is estimated to be around 9,800 pairs.
Their latest estimates from 2007 indicate that 19 bald eagle pairs are nesting in West Virginia. Those nests are located in the Potomac River drainage in the WV counties of Hampshire, Grant, Jefferson, Mineral, Hardy and Pendleton.
Golden eagles do not nest in West Virginia but often migrate through the state in fall and winter on rare occasions.
For basic information on travel in the state of West Virginia call 1-800-CALL-WVA.
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