The bald eagle’s recovery is our greatest endangered species success. Credit: Lance Roberts/USFWS
AUGUSTA – A report from Maine Inland Fisheries and Wildlife biologists on the comeback of the once endangered bald eagle in Maine revealed more than one amazing piece of data, but the one revelation that is most likely to make your jaw drop is the length of time state biologists say one bald eagle nest has been in continuous use.
A team of biologists, pilots and wardens worked 240 hours to monitor and document 733 nesting pairs of bald eagles across Maine. That number of nesting pairs is up from the frighteningly low count of 21 nesting pairs in 1967.
Tucked into the report is the fact that a bald eagle nest in Blue Hill, Maine has been continuously in use since 1978, more than 41 years!
To provide a frame of reference, in 1978 Jimmy Carter was President, the movie Grease was released, and Pete Rose was about to get his 3,000th major league baseball hit.
The report also documents what biologists call the “great nest”, which was discovered in Sagadahoc County in 1964. Measuring 20 feet vertically, biologists estimated it had been in continuous use for more than 60 years.
State longevity data shows that the longest a bald eagle has ever been documented to live in Maine is 32 years, with most living less than 16 years. This means that nests that have long been in use are occupied by multiple generations of eagles, and expanded by each generation of eagles that occupies them.
Biologists say that the strength of the recovery of bald eagles in Maine is a testament to conservation efforts and that the health of bald eagle populations is an indicator of overall environmental quality. In the report, biologists said the bald eagle recovery is one of Maine’s “premiere examples of conservation success.”