Flying With Eagles
June 14, 2012
Southwest Alaska Network and Kenai Fjords National Park staff conducted helicopter surveys recently to determine the breeding status of bald eagles along the coast from Beauty Bay to Bear Glacier. The number of adult eagles, eagle behavior, and nest status (incubating or empty) was recorded for each nest.
We found 12 new bald eagle nests, 11 of which had incubating adults! In all, we surveyed 76 nests, 57% of which were occupied by incubating adults, while surveying about 190 miles of the rugged coast. We didn't observe any ground nesting eagles, probably due to the higher than normal amounts of snow on the ground this spring.
Along the way, we observed a lot of recent tree damage in the park, especially in the Nuka Bay area where large stands of trees had been blown down, probably by high winds last fall. We spotted numerous black bears and humpback whales. We also watched a napping cow and calf moose pair and a peregrine falcon hunting shorebirds in Beauty Bay (using GoogleTM Earth, discover this place by clicking this link!).
While we've received reports that marine debris from the Japanese tsunami has been found along the Pacific Coast, we didn't observe anything from the air to suggest that greater than normal amounts or unusual types of debris have washed up on Kenai Fjords' beaches.
An eagle flies above us during our survey. (Photo: NPS/EWiess 2012)
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Did You Know?
River otters defecate in certain spots to mark their territory. Researchers in Kenai Fjords National Park have discovered that these "latrine sites" enrich the soil, allowing plants to grow in those spots that aren't found anywhere else close by.