Successful Nesting Season for Eagles, Loons and Falcons in Vermont

As bald eagle nests become more common in Vermont, the Fish & Wildlife Department is asking bird-watchers to enjoy the birds from a safe distance to avoid disturbing them. Photo by John Hall, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

A record year for production of young in 2016

Bald eagles produced 34 young in Vermont in 2016, smashing the most recent record of 26 in 2013 according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. The birds remain on the list of species protected under Vermont’s state endangered species law, but this strong year has conservationists hopeful for their continued recovery.

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This year also saw record nesting success for several other bird species monitored by biologists and volunteers in Vermont. Peregrine falcons successfully raised at least 81 young birds in 2016, breaking the previous state record of 67, according to Audubon Vermont who monitors nesting peregrine falcons in partnership with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

Vermont also welcomed 80 new birds to the state’s loon population, breaking the previous record of 69. The Vermont Center for Ecostudies monitors and helps manage the state’s nesting loons with the help of an army of citizens.

The mild weather this spring likely helped boost numbers of all three species, according to John Buck, migratory bird biologist with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  “The cooperative weather provided a bump to many species this year, but the continued recovery of these species is the result of a long-term effort by our department and our partners to conserve the habitat these birds need to thrive,” said Buck.

Across the nation, Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles declined in the 20th century due to loss of habitat, disturbance to nests, and the effects of the pesticide DDT. Laws such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a ban on DDT have aided in the recovery of these birds. Loons similarly faced dramatic declines as a result of shoreline development and human disturbance of their lake habitat.

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