Bald eagle figures reach higher perch

Bald eagles are soaring in record numbers at lakes Mead and Mohave, where biologists this week documented the highest tally ever.

The annual count Monday of bald eagles that migrate to the lakes from the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere climbed to 163, shattering the previous record high of 116 from two years ago.

It’s a sign the once-endangered bird of prey has made a solid comeback since it was delisted three years ago.

And, it might be further evidence that the massive lakes that straddle Southern Nevada and Arizona are becoming a destination, rather than just a stopover in the eagles’ winter migration.

"It’s definitely the best year we’ve had for sure," said Dawn Fletcher, research assistant for UNLV’s Public Lands Institute, one of nine agencies that participated in the survey.

The National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey conduct the midwinter bald eagle survey to monitor populations nationwide.

The bald eagle was declared an endangered species for much of the United States in 1967, before passage of the Endangered Species Act of 1973. Only 417 nesting pairs were known to exist in the contiguous 48 states in 1963.

The bald eagle’s demise was blamed in part on habitat loss. But pesticides that since have been banned played a role by contaminating prey the eagles ate, causing egg shells to thin and making adults sick and infertile.

Eagle surveys in Lake Mead National Recreation Area date to the early 1980s, but the count method was standardized in 2001 and revised in 2007 to improve the quality of the data.

In all, 45 volunteers and biologists on boats scanned the lakes’ shorelines with binoculars.

They followed specific routes at slow speeds looking for adults and immature bald eagles. Young eagles have a mottled appearance compared with the distinct snowy white hoods and tails of adult bald eagles, which have brownish black bodies and 6-foot wing spans.

The majestic birds stand like fire hydrants along the shoreline and high atop rocky cliffs. Some are counted as they glide over the lakes in search of striped bass, trout and carp, a diet that fuels their powerful bodies after the long migration.

Jef Jaeger, research assistant professor for the Public Lands Institute, said the high count numbers might reflect a cold snap across the country that might have pushed eagles south toward their wintering range earlier this year with peak numbers coinciding with the survey date.

"We don’t know any of this for sure. This is speculation," he said Wednesday, reflecting on the preliminary data.

Weather for the survey was ideal — light wind at most and blue skies — which provided optimum conditions to sight eagles.

In keeping with past surveys, the Overton Arm route of Lake Mead produced the highest number, 42 total. There were 20 adult bald eagles and 22 immature ones in addition to two osprey, one peregrine falcon, two red-tailed hawks and a pair of northern harriers.

Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Christy Klinger was impressed with the variety of wildlife that her team observed in the Overton Arm.

There were flocks of mallards, pintails, teal, grebes and Canada geese. Coyotes were seen stalking the shoreline in the same area where the bald eagles hunt. Bighorn sheep darted up steep cliffs.

A peregrine falcon, arguably the fastest animal on Earth with an average speed of 112 mph when it dives, or stoops for prey, flew like a lightning bolt low over the lake.

"There’s a tremendous amount of wildlife out here," she said midway through Monday’s survey.

Bald eagles were equally impressive.

"It’s amazing. They are a magnificent bird. It’s beyond words sometimes," she said as one glided seemingly effortlessly after leaving its perch with a flap of its wings.

Klinger surmised that the sharp increase in eagle numbers could indicate the Lake Mead area "is most likely quite and important migratory stopover. … Some of our data indicate that this may also be quite an important wintering ground for the eagles," she said.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at or 702-383-0308.

Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece
Frontier jet safely returns to Las Vegas after losing engine piece. (@FlightAlerts_)
Park Service plans ahead for lower lake levels
National Park Service releases new plans to maintain access to the water as Lake Mead continues to shrink.
Women claim abuse at Florence McClure Women's Correctional Facility
Current and ex-inmates, including Merry West, are suing Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility, claiming abuse and inadequate medical care. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @rookie__rae
Butte County Sheriff's Office Body Cam Footage
Bodycam video from Butte County (Calif.) Sheriff's Office Deputy Aaron Parmley, who was in Paradise November 8 helping with evacuations. (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like