SPECIAL TO THE VINDICATOR
OAK HARBOR, OHIO -- A recent survey of bald eagles in Ohio shows record numbers of the nation's symbol are wintering in the state, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Wildlife officials completing the state's mid-winter eagle survey last week recorded a record 259 bald eagles, surpassing last year's record of 204.
Survey said: The survey included 147 adult eagles and 112 immature eagles (birds less than five years old). Wildlife biologists attribute the high number in part to this winter's mild weather as well as the growing number of resident bald eagles in the state.
Observers found eagles in a record 44 counties during the two-week survey. The highest number of eagles were reported in counties along western Lake Erie with a county record of 53 eagles observed in both Erie and Ottawa counties. Other counties with high numbers of eagles observed included Trumbull County (19), Wyandot (18), Erie (11), and Muskingum (10).
Eagles of breeding age usually remain in the state year-round. Cold temperatures and frozen waterways in upper Michigan and Canada could also be pushing resident birds from those areas temporarily into Ohio in search of open water.
The details: The continent-wide survey, coordinated by the U.S. Fish & amp; Wildlife Service, is conducted by state wildlife officials each January to determine the wintering bald and golden eagle populations in North America. (Golden eagles are very rarely seen in the Buckeye State.) The survey includes a standardized aerial survey and observations from the ground by field personnel, a team of volunteers, and observations reported by local residents.
Only six bald eagles were observed statewide during the first winter survey conducted in 1979, the year the ODNR Division of Wildlife began the state's bald eagle restoration program.
A record 106 young fledged from 74 nests in 26 Ohio counties during last year's nesting season.