Surveying for Shepaug Eagles

The Midwinter Eagle Survey is a research project designed to monitor the status and detect trends of wintering eagle populations in the United States over time. Here in Connecticut, Steep Rock Association has coordinated a consistent effort to survey the entire Shepaug River with the help of dedicated community scientists. Each individual or party within our impressive army of volunteers is assigned a reach of river during a defined survey window.

Sixteen accessible sites have been strategically established to maximize our ability to accurately determine eagle abundance. Crucial components are to have non-overlapping sites and as much coverage (time and area) as possible. Below is a map reporting results and displaying color-coded sites encompassing 18.7 miles of the Shepaug River.

A total of 8 bald eagles were seen between 7:00AM – 11:00AM on January 8, 2022. The importance of recording behavior and time of observation to prevent double counting was especially apparent this year. Deductive reasoning found that one immature eagle was likely detected 5 separate times, flying downstream and intently at that. Three adults were observed dispersed throughout the lower half of the system, giving us a tally of 4 bald eagles.

Data is provided to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a statewide, and ultimately, nationwide assessment, but findings also contribute significantly to our knowledge of local density, factors influencing habitation, distribution throughout the Shepaug River valley, and preferred habitat.

Thank you, Eagle Watchers, for your skills and hard work to further the conservation of this state-threatened species!

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