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News and events

News & events

2016 Eagle Survey - Public participation requested

February 17, 2016

VCU Rice Rivers Center and The College of William & Mary's Center for Conservation Biology

Countdown begins for historic 2016 eagle survey – You can help:

Incubation is underway for many bald eagle pairs throughout the commonwealth and in less than two weeks the 2016 Virginia Bald Eagle Survey will begin. 2016 represents the 60th year of the survey initiated by Jackson Abbott and volunteers of the Virginia Society of Ornithology. In addition to this incredible milestone, this survey represents the 40th year of Mitchell Byrd’s tenure and the 25th year of Bryan Watts’ tenure conducting the survey. The survey is expected to take 150 hours of flying, will cover more than 1,000 nests, and is planned to be a five-year update for many areas not covered since the 2011 survey.

The Virginia Bald Eagle Survey is a national treasure. The survey has become one of the most significant serial data sets in the world. More than population information alone, the effort has produced a wealth of ecological information on a population recovering within an increasingly human-dominated landscape. It has become one of the best records of arguably the greatest conservation accomplishment in our nation’s history. Since 2009, results of the survey have been made available on CCB’s website via an interactive mapping portal where users are able to view known nest locations throughout the state. The web application receives more than 30,000 visits per year and has become a critical resource for land planners.

We are requesting your participation in this benchmark survey. The annual aerial survey covers the Coastal Plain including the tidal reach of the Chesapeake Bay, the Eastern Shore, and lower Tidewater. We rely on the eyes and ears of the public to document the distribution of breeding eagles in other areas of the state. If you know of eagle nests in your area, please visit the Eagle Nest Locator in our mapping portal to see if they are known to the survey. If not, please report your observations to and contribute to this historic survey. For more information, visit our Report a Nest page.


The 2016 survey is being sponsored by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the National Park Service, Dominion, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and The Center for Conservation Biology. We thank all of these organizations for their commitment to eagle conservation in Virginia.


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