On Sunday (10 March, 2013) during the annual bald eagle breeding survey along the James River, Bryan Watts and Mitchell Byrd checked on the resident pair of bald eagles in Richmond. Stars of the 2012 Richmond Eagle Cam, James and Virginia were observed around their new nest on Williams Island. Williams is a forested island in the James River that is within the pairs breeding territory. The new nest built in a loblolly pine during the early fall is very close to a nest that the pair occupied in the late 1990s. The 2012 eagle cam nest is nearby and still intact but not being used this year. CCB does not have plans to install a camera at the new nest on Williams Island.
When flying over the nest around 9:00 in the morning Watts and Byrd observed 2 freshly hatched chicks huddled together in the nest cup. Virginia stood on the rim of the nest watching over the chicks but there was no prey within the nest. James was perched on a snag along the shoreline within 30 yards of the nest.
Over the weekend, Watts and Byrd along with pilot Captain Fuzzzo Shermer checked more than 200 eagle nests along the James River. The Richmond nest will be checked again in late April to see how the brood fares.
End of the 2012 Season
As researchers we often begin projects with specific objectives that we intend to accomplish. But we know from experience that once started projects frequently lead to the unexpected. The unexpected is what makes our field so exciting and fresh. To be afforded the opportunity to crest the ridge and look out to a new horizon. The Richmond eagle cam has been such a project.
We started this project with the objective of bringing a family of eagles to the Richmond community with the hope that the community would learn about this species and become more engaged with the environment that surrounds them. What we learned was not so much about eagles but about the people of Richmond and the broader community. Many sectors of the community including schools, teachers, students, retirees, bird watchers, and everyone in between embraced this pair in their city. Each person related to the pair in their own way. The unexpected surprise for us is that Richmond is awake and engaged.
It has been great to interact with the public about ecology and for all of us together to rally around this pair. I want to thank the landowner for her generosity in sharing her pair with the public. None of this could have been possible without the dedicated team of moderators who individually and collectively spent countless hours and sacrificed much to serve the public. We cannot thank you enough for all your efforts. The moderators and operations in general were led by Barb Slatcher. Her dedication to bring this project to the public in a professional manner and her insight into the community of watchers was far beyond the call of duty and the project could not have succeeded without her guidance.
It has been exciting for me to share this season with you all.
Dr. Bryan Watts
The Center for Conservation Biology
2/08 5:45pm 1st egg laid
2/11 6:30pm 2nd egg laid
3/16 7:30pm 1st egg hatched (R1)
3/18 8:00am 2nd egg hatched (R2)
5/23 12:03pm First chick branched
6/01 6:48pm First chick fledged
6/04 7:32am Second chick fledged
Research: The Generation Wars
The video footage that you are viewing is part of an ongoing CCB research project designed to examine how different generations of eagles interact within the Chesapeake Bay population.
Richmond Eagle Pair
This pair of eagles is located along the James River in Richmond Virginia. The nest is situated in a solid top crotch, approximately 90 feet up in an isolated loblolly pine. This breeding territory was discovered in the spring of 1995 when a pair of adult eagles was observed attending a nest on an island in the James River. The pair produced no chicks during their first year. A single chick was produced in 1996 and the territory has been occupied continuously since that time. The original nest was abandoned and the pair built this nest in 2001. The pair has used this nest for more than ten years and since 2001 has produced 18 chicks including 2 in 2011.
James River Eagle Population
The bald eagle population along the historic James River has increased from 0 pairs in the 1970s to 174 pairs in 2011 and is one of the best examples of how this species has made a dramatic recovery within the Chesapeake Bay.
CCB Eagle Monitoring Program
The bald eagle breeding population in the lower Chesapeake Bay has been monitored from the air for 50 years producing one of the most significant conservation datasets in the world. Learn more about eagle monitoring
CCB is currently conducting the largest eagle tracking study in the world focused on understanding eagle spatial ecology and how eagles interact with human-made hazards. Learn more about eagle tracking