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Survey shows bald eagle numbers growing in Southern WV


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — On Saturday, 23 volunteers braved single-digit temperatures and 15 mph wind gusts to scan the skies above Bluestone Lake and the New River to confirm that an eagle population is alive and growing in Southern West Virginia.

Those taking part in the 13th annual Southern West Virginia Winter Eagle Survey spotted 50 bald and two golden eagles during the event’s standard six-hour observation period. It was the second-highest count since the surveys began, surpassed only by the 2015 count, when 56 bald eagles and two golden eagles were observed.

Observers watched from 11 sites, stretching from the Brooks Overlook on W.Va. 20 several miles north of Hinton to the Bluestone Wildlife Management Area on the New River; at Pipestem and Bluestone State Parks on the Bluestone River; and along several tributaries of the Greenbrier River in Summers County.
Volunteers stationed at the mouth of the Bluestone River at ice-covered Bluestone Lake recorded the most sightings — 14 bald and two golden eagles — many of them drawn there to dine on a fresh deer carcass atop the frozen lake. A pair of hungry bobcats was seen joining in the buffet.

The annual winter eagle count began in 2005, after now-retired Pipestem State Park naturalist and avid birder Jim Phillips took note of an increasing number of bald eagle sightings in the Pipestem-Bluestone area.

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