2012-02-09 / Local & State

Future Looks Promising For Raystown Lake Eagles

Midwinter survey completed

The recently completed annual survey of bald eagles wintering on Raystown Lake and the Juniata River in Huntingdon County found a total of 13 of the majestic raptors on the lake. Of those eagles seen by personnel from the Pennsylvania Game Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission nine were adults, meaning four years of age or older when the white plumage is developed, and four were immature.

Historically, there have been four active bald eagle nests in the Raystown Lake area. However, during this year’s survey a fifth nest was located.

“The discovery of the new nest is exciting,” said Richard Danley, Game Commission Southcentral Region Information and Education supervisor. “But, even more exciting is the fact that an adult eagle was witnessed sitting on the nest. Three of the five nests on Raystown Lake had a pair of eagles within close proximity, so if each nest is successful, we can hope to see an increase in successfully fledged birds this year.”

Nest monitoring will continue through the winter, spring and early summer to determine how many eaglets survive.

“The total number of eagles detected this year is about average,” Danley said. “ In 2010, survey teams counted 13 eagles and, in 2011, 12 eagles were spotted.

“Due to the timing of the survey, ice conditions on the lake can hamper the survey team’s efforts. This year, about 15 percent of the lake could not be surveyed due to frozen conditions.”

Along with ice, mechanical problems can hamper the survey.

“This year, the Game Commission’s survey boat was out of service because of engine problems,” said Rob Criswell, Game Commission Southcentral Region director, and veteran eagle survey team member. “Thankfully, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission provided one of their boats and district waterways conservation officers to complete the survey. We appreciate the assistance in this effort, and the cooperation we invariably enjoy with Fish and Boat, along with that of the Corps of Engineers at the lake project.”

The Raystown Lake/Juniata River survey is part of a statewide effort coordinated by the Game Commission to census eagles throughout Pennsylvania during mid-winter, and is conducted each January.

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