News & Events

Bald Eagle 2021 Update

(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).

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Founded in 1914, NH Audubon’s mission is to protect New Hampshire’s natural environment for wildlife and for people. It is an independent statewide membership organization with four nature centers throughout the state. Expert educators give programs to children, families, and adults at centers and in schools. Staff biologists and volunteers conduct bird conservation efforts such as the Peregrine Falcon restoration. NH Audubon protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat and is a voice for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on NH Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, sanctuaries, and publications, call 224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.