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January 16, 2009

   Sarah Beckwith

National Bird Attracts Attention During Annual Survey

Volunteers study eagle silhouettes.
Volunteers study eagle silhouettes 
to aid in identification.
Volunteers discuss the eagle survey.
Volunteers discuss the eagle survey (from left to right): Caroline Hanson, Hannah Ryan, Joe and Deb Winkler, Diane Orme, and BLM Wildlife 
Biologist Ted Igleheart.
Ten Sleep resident CJ Grimes.
Ten Sleep resident CJ Grimes uses 
a scope to identify an eagle.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Cody and Worland Field Offices conducted local surveys as part of the nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey on Jan. 10. BLM volunteers and staff spent the day identifying and counting Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, and other raptors seen along standard routes.

Immature Bald Eagle.
Immature Bald Eagle on a survey route along the Nowood south of Ten Sleep.
The survey is part of a national effort which began in 1979 to determine the wintering Bald Eagle population and distribution, and to identify important winter habitat in the lower 48 states. Approximately 85 volunteers and staff surveyed over 50 routes in the Cody and Worland areas. By the end of the day, hundreds of Bald and Golden Eagles were counted in the Bighorn Basin. Total numbers of eagles counted will be available soon from the Cody and Worland Field Offices.

"The Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey began at a time when Bald Eagles were scarce and on the list of threatened and endangered species," BLM Wildlife Biologist Ted Igleheart said. "The annual count allows us to monitor eagle population numbers and trends over a long period of time and to compare those numbers from year to year."

Volunteers are essential to the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. BLM Wildlife Biologist Destin Harrell thanked all the volunteers for participating in this worthy effort. "We are grateful for the experience and dedication that our volunteers bring to the survey," Harrell said. "There are some who have been involved in this for twenty years."

Bald Eagles are seen in greater numbers than Golden Eagles because the survey routes follow rivers and creeks, a Bald Eagle's preferred habitat. Igleheart says that people would be surprised to learn how much carrion Bald Eagles feed on at this time of year when some of the waterways they frequent are frozen, making it difficult for them to prey on fish and ducks. "Carrion really helps them get through the winter," Igleheart said.

Saturday's survey was preceded by a training Friday evening at both the Cody and Worland Field Offices. Igleheart and Harrell imparted helpful hints on how to identify eagles and other raptors.

For more information about the Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey in the Bighorn Basin, contact the Worland Field Office at 307-347-5100 or the Cody Field Office at 307-578-5900. To learn more about the national program visit the U.S. Geological Survey Snake River Field Station website at srfs.wr.usgs.gov/research/indivproj.asp?SRFSProj_ID=2  


The BLM manages more land - 258 million acres - than any other Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western States, including Alaska. The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

- BLM -

Last updated: 01-20-2009