THE POST-SIGNAL / Desiray Seaux
Crowley Rotarians learn about the status of American Bald Eagles. From left, Elliot Dore, Michael Seymour of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, and Suzy Webb.
Rotarians learn about Bald Eagle preservation
Michael A. Seymour, a Nongame Ornithologist for the Louisiana Natural Heritage Program with Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, addressed the Crowley Rotary Club on Tuesday.
Seymour, raised in Baton Rouge, has been an avid birder for 28 years. He graduated from LSU in 2001 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Masters in Entomology in 2007 from LSU. After graduation he accepted a job with the Dept. of Wild Life and Fisheries. He has been in the position for over ten years.
Seymour’s job includes performing waterbird colony aerial surveys, Bald Eagle nest surveys, secretive marsh bird callback surveys, monitoring avian productivity and survivorship and bottomland hardwood forrest breeding birds, surveys of nonbreeding shorebirds and others. He also coordinates Louisiana’s participation in the USGS Breeding Bird Survey and the White Lake Christmas Bird Count and reviews projects for impacts to birds in their habitats. And lastly, his most recent project includes the creation of a network of autonomous VHF receiver stations to passively track nanotagged animals.
Seymour gave a presentation on the “Status of Louisiana’s Bald Eagles.”
American bald eagles are the largest and heaviest birds in Louisiana, it is becoming a conspicuous and ubiquitous sighting in the state. However, American eagle sighting were not always so common.
The exceptionally regal, recongnizable and powerful raptors occur over much of the United States throughout different times of the year.
In 1782 the Bald Eagle became our national bird and then was added to national great seal (not made office until 1787.)
In Louisiana, bald eagles can be found year round yet they are somewhat rare during summer months. The raptors travel north during the summer months.
From satelite tracking devices attached to the bald eagles data shows that the birds went north in April/May (after nesting) and came back to Louisiana in September/October. They stayed anywhere from five to sixty days on their nonbreeding grounds. Intrestingly enough, the hatchlings subadults or young birds left Louisiana about a month before the adults did.
Nesting in Louisiana for the bald eagle are located in St. Charles to St. Mary Parishes with a hot spot located in the Atchafalaya Basin.
Some interesting facts about bald eagles are: chicks hatch grey and then turn brown within a few weeks but it takes about four and half yeas to reach adult plumage (adult plumage includes white feathers on the head and tail of the bird). Fully grown bald eagles are about two feet in height, three feet in length ( measurement as if the bird were laying on its back), weigh about twelve pounds, have a massive seven foot wing span, and live about 25 years in the wild.
Bald eagles are one of the largest flying birds and create one of the largest nests in the world occupied by a single pair of birds. Eagles build alternative nest and build multiple nest during their life time. The nest can weigh anywhere from one to two tons and can be eight to ten feet wide in diameter with and an additional ten feet in depth.
Currently, Louisiana has about 700-800 Bald Eagle nests in which about half of them are active nest. An active nest is defined as a nest with eggs, chicks or freshly lined with moss.
Luckly policy makers and resource management were able to save the Bald Eagle as in 1966 they were listed endangered, then in 1995 they were downlisted to threatened, and finally in 2007 the Bald Eagle was delisted from the Endangered Species List completely.
Today the United States has about then thousand mating pairs.