Sunapee Sighting: Have you seen a bald eagle recently?

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Sunapee, N.H. – Have you seen a bald eagle recently?

Might an eagle pair be in the process of establishing a breeding territory in the Lake Sunapee watershed?

A recent Sunapee Sighting posted on SunapeeNews.com prompted Rem Mastin, Sunapee, to comment:

“Speaking of Sightings: A few days ago, while heading toward Newport, on Rt. 11 before Rt 103, close to the Treatment Plant road [in Sunapee], I was distracted for a moment as a beautiful BALD EAGLE flew right down the Sugar River by the highway. Did anyone else have any current sightings in that area?”

In mid-December (2012), Susan Parmenter, Sunapee, who is a keen observer of nature and birds, snapped this photo of a bald eagle on a patch of ice in Job’s Creek, Lake Sunapee. At the time, the lake had not yet frozen over. Several days later, she also saw a bald eagle flying along the Sugar River in Claremont, N.H.

A bald eagle “soaring over the Newbury side of Lake Sunapee near the State Beach,” around 4 p.m. on February 16, was posted on BaldEagleInfo.com. And Kittie Wilson, author of “All Things Pleasant on the Lake” wrote about bald eagles sightings this winter around Pleasant Lake in New London.

Bald eagles in the Connecticut River region

The Sugar River, a tributary of the Connecticut River, flows west from the outlet of Lake Sunapee at Sunapee Harbor, along Wendell Marsh, and then through Newport and Claremont. The Sugar River joins the Connecticut across from Ascutney, Vermont.

All tributaries of the Connecticut River north of the Massachusetts state line are part of a “recovery initiative” — the Connecticut River Bald Eagle Restoration and Habitat Protection Project, Chris Martin writes in NH Audubon Afield (Spring 2013). Martin is a senior biologist at NH Audubon. He coordinates a statewide bald eagle monitoring and management program under a contract between NH Audubon and NH Fish & Game.

“An amazing resettlement by eagles is underway on the Connecticut, as pairs reclaim ancestral breeding areas that have been vacant for decades,” Martin reports.

See: Bald Eagles: New Hampshire’s regal predators reclaim the Connecticut by Chris Martin

“Recovery of the bald eagle population across the Granite State mirrors the rebound taking place in the Connecticut River watershed,” according to Martin. “Across New Hampshire in 2012, biologists confirmed 35 territorial pairs of eagles. Twenty of these pairs had productive nests, and a total of 33 young eagles fledged.”

In New England, adult bald eagles live essentially year-round within their breeding territories. They can be found near their nests in any season. Nests tend to be located high in white pines or cottonwoods and close to predictable food resources found in the always-open water below dams, near rapids, or in tidal areas. Other pairs capitalize on food sources available at livestock farms or local highway department road-kill dumps. An eagle pair maintains their nest throughout the year, but nest-building activities really ramp up as the breeding season arrives in February. Most pairs in New Hampshire will lay eggs in March, hatch young in April, and fledge full-sized 11 to 12-week-old juveniles in July. – Senior Biologist Chris Martin for NH Audubon

To comment or if you have an eagle sighting or other Sunapee Sighting to share, please leave a reply.

See NH Audubon (for info and birding resources, including sightings and list serves) and NH Fish & Game.

4 Responses

  1. Not a good idea to advertise where the sightings are. I am worried about harm coming to them. We have a pair of nesting bald eagles (second year nesting) in our neighborhood and not one of us will advertise the fact. The only one notified was the fish and game warden. We watched them nesting and we watched when the fledglings left the nest—it was awesome.

    • Erin would be smart to report the eagle nest to NH Audubon because we are authorized by NH Fish & Game to monitor/mange eagle nests across the State of NH

  2. Here on Job’s Creek, some workers on the new house going in next door reported seeing bald eagles in a towering dead tree on the Woodland Rd side of the Creek in the past week.

  3. On 2 separate occations in December before the Harbor iced over, we saw a single eagle perched on the rock reef in front of our house eating a fish. Our neighbors have seen a pair on these rocks also around this time.

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