Arizona’s bald eagles break breeding-season records
NORTH VALLEY – With the last bald eagle nestling out of the nest, Arizona’s bald eagle population continues its upward trend as it set multiple breeding-season productivity records this year. Key productivity records that were broken in 2015 include number of breeding areas, occupied breeding areas, eggs laid, active breeding areas, successful breeding attempts, young hatched, nestlings fledged, and the nest success and productivity ratios. All of these measures are important indicators of the species’ health.
In Arizona, at least 89 bald eagle eggs were laid, an increase of 16, and a record 76 breeding areas were identified, including eight new areas. For the first time ever, the number of nestlings that fledged exceeded 60, with 66 young birds making it to the important milestone of their first flight. The previous fledging record was 58.
Annual productivity records indicate that bald eagles continue to flourish in the state. Bald eagles in Arizona were removed from the federal Endangered Species Act in 2011. The department’s conservation efforts contributed to the species recovery. Nationally, the birds remain protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
“Bald eagles in Arizona continue to surprise us and surpass all expectations for the population. Given that these birds depend on waterways to live, it’s amazing that they have flourished and grown in Arizona’s limited habitat from only 11 pairs in 1978 when the species was listed as endangered to 59 adult breeding pairs this year,” said Kenneth Jacobson, Arizona Game and Fish Department bald eagle management coordinator.
The impressive growth of the population is attributed to the continued efforts of the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee – a coalition of AZGFD and 25 other government agencies, private organizations, and Native American tribes – and its years of cooperative conservation efforts, including extensive monitoring by the nationally-awarded Bald Eagle Nestwatch Program.
The breeding season for bald eagles in Arizona runs from December through June, although eagle pairs at higher elevations nest later than those in the rest of the state.
Continued support from the committee, State Wildlife Grants and the Heritage Fund (Arizona Lottery ticket sales), will help ensure that Arizona’s bald eagles continue to thrive.
For more information on bald eagles in Arizona, visit www.azgfd.gov (click on “wildlife”) or www.swbemc.org.