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Volunteers needed to count bald eagles at Tahoe

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Robin Jones of the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences in an interview and press release, today, January 2, said that the upcoming need for volunteers to head out along the shores of Lake Tahoe to count eagles was open to anyone who is interested in contributing to the effort. No experience is needed, and no one is turned away.

For the last 35 years volunteers have been counting bald eagles in the Lake Tahoe basin. This year marks the 36th year. The day for the count is Friday, January 10.

The Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences oversees the count in the Tahoe Basin. All of the eagle counters are volunteers. The purpose of the count is to continue to monitor the health of the wintering population of bald eagles on a local and national scale.

The effort, started in 1979, has been possible due to the hundreds of volunteers who spend a few hours at designated spots looking for the eagles. The spots are located along standard routes that the eagles travel.

A little history here: in 1967 the bald eagle was declared an endangered species. Due to a massive effort by many organizations, public and private, that designation was removed 40 years later, in 2007.

The count takes place during the first weeks of January each year. The effort relies on "citizen science" volunteers to do the counting, which results in a data base with great depth.

Robin said that the call is out for volunteers to do the eagle counting in the Tahoe Basin. The organizers can't guarantee you'll see an eagle. They do, however, expect a high count this year.

Recently, during the Christmas count, "...15 individual bald eagles were counted in South Lake Tahoe alone, matching the total for the 2013 midwinter count for the entire Lake Tahoe Basin," according to the press release from the Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences.

Jones said that there are 30 observation spots around the lake. Most are easy to get to. The more difficult spots are assigned to experienced volunteers. Newbies may be teamed up with someone who has done this before.

Binoculars, the survey form and map, and a good field guide are essential for the survey. If you have a spotting scope or can borrow one, please bring it to your survey location. The survey form will be available for download from the website.

If you are volunteering, you will also need to check weather conditions for the day and dress appropriately, and bring any food and snacks you'll need. The time frame for the count on January 10 is from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Sign up either by contacting Robin at robin@tinesweb.org, call at 775.298.0066, or visit the website, Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences.

If you are in the Incline Village area, sign up and pick up the necessary survey forms from the Institutes offices at 948 Incline Way, Incline Village, Nevada.

This is your chance to participate in an exciting and very important event, all the while enjoying the spectacular splendor of Lake Tahoe.

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