(by Chris Martin)
Another record-setting year for New Hampshire’s breeding Bald Eagles! NH Audubon staff and volunteers confirmed 81 territorial pairs in 2021, up 7% over 2020. Nearly 80% of the state’s incubating pairs (53 of 67) were successful, fledging a total of 81 young, and matching 2019’s record-high total. NH’s breeding Bald Eagle population continues to double every 5-7 years, as it has consistently since the late 1990s.
Several of the state’s larger lakes and major rivers have multiple breeding pairs; Lake Winnipesaukee alone now has 10 nesting pairs, and the Merrimack River (Franklin-Nashua) has 7 pairs!
Since Fall 2020, we’ve had band encounters with 15 separate color-banded eagles; 13 were seen/photographed alive, while two more were found dead. The oldest was a 21-yr old female who had long nested on Squam Lake but was found dead on Wickwas Lake. The youngest was a 1-yr old immature from Lake Massasecum seen alive at both in Norwich and in New Haven, Connecticut. But the top NH eagle story in 2021 had to be the young Red-tailed Hawk that was raised in an active Bald Eagle nest located on Bow Lake in Northwood, and which fledged successfully along with one juvenile eagle!
NH Fish & Game took Bald Eagles off the state’s Threatened List in March 2017 after several decades of robust recovery well-documented by NH Audubon. Volunteers contribute immensely to our annual monitoring efforts and they deserve a big salute for gathering field data that we report and that is used in management.
Photos from top: After post-fledging rehabilitation, 1-yr old eagle ‘Black CE’ traveled from Lake Massasecum in Bradford to two areas in southern Connecticut (Peter Fish); in June 2021, a downy Red-tailed Hawk chick (left) and a juvenile eagle (right) made for unlikely nest mates at Bow Lake in Northwood (Cheryl Mrozienski).