For Immediate Release - May 07, 2013

First Statewide Bald Eagle Nesting Survey Finds 30 Active Nests

BOSTON – Tuesday, May 7, 2013 – Officials from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) verified 30 active nests in the Commonwealth, including eight nests along the Connecticut River, six at the Quabbin Reservoir and four along the Merrimack River during Massachusetts’ first Bald Eagle nesting survey. The survey, coordinated by the DFG’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) and involving agency staff and 35 volunteers, was conducted on April 5, 2013.

“We are encouraged by the results of the first statewide bald eagle nesting survey, as we continue to find increasing numbers of eagles nesting in Massachusetts,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin, who participated in the survey and observed an active nest on Foss Reservoir in Framingham. “I would like to thank the MassWildlife staff who worked so hard to provide statewide coverage for the survey, as well as the many volunteers who gave valuable reports for this effort.”

MassWildlife staff and volunteers checked known eagle territories and explored areas with potential eagle habitat during the day-long survey, in an effort to verify continued use of existing nests and to locate new eagle territories. The results of these efforts yielded a total of 30 active bald eagle nests and many additional sightings across the state.

In addition to the principal bald eagle nesting territories along the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers and at Quabbin Reservoir, other active nests were observed at Wachusett Reservoir, and in the towns of Framingham, Brookfield, Pittsfield, Webster, Middleborough, Fall River and Plymouth. One nest failure was reported at Assawompsett Pond in Lakeville, where the wind blew a nest and two eggs out of the nest tree in early April.

Additional eagle sightings were reported in Arlington, Carver, Lunenburg, Russell, Sandisfield and along the Housatonic River. 

Bald eagles, the largest bird of prey native to Massachusetts with a body length of about 3 feet and a wingspan of up to seven feet, have increased in numbers in Massachusetts since being reintroduced to the Quabbin Reservoir between 1982 and 1988. The species was down listed from Endangered to Threatened status in Massachusetts in 2011 and removed from the federal endangered species list in 2007.

In addition to the April 5 survey results, MassWildlife has received dozens of e-mails this spring reporting eagle sightings. Several of these reports are of new eagle nests, including one in Stoneham, that are in the process of being verified by staff. MassWildlife expects the final number of breeding eagles this spring will surpass last year’s record high numbers. 

MassWildlife is grateful to all the volunteers who participated in this year’s survey, and also is especially appreciative for the assistance of the Department of Conservation and Recreation, who provided boat access to the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs.

Reports of bald eagle sightings are welcome throughout the year. Individuals should email reports to natural.heritage@state.ma.us or mail them to "Eagle Survey", Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, West Boylston, MA 01583.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is responsible for promoting the conservation and enjoyment of the Commonwealth's natural resources. DFG carries out this mission through land protection and wildlife habitat management, management of inland and marine fish and wildlife species and ecological restoration of fresh water, salt water and terrestrial habitats. DFG promotes enjoyment of the Massachusetts environment through outdoor skills workshops, fishing festivals and other educational programs, and by enhancing access to the Commonwealth's rivers, lakes and coastal waters.