SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. – Bald eagle nesting remains strong in Georgia, but the number of successful nests and young fledged in the northern part of the state declined this year compared to long-term averages, according to an annual Georgia Department of Natural Resources survey. Substantial rainfall from January through March likely contributed to lower nest productivity in north Georgia, survey leader Dr. Bob Sargent said.
Checking by helicopter in January, March and early April, Sargent counted 117 eagle nest territories in three regions of the state: the six coastal counties; a section of east Georgia bounded roughly by interstates 16 and 85 and the South Carolina line; and the counties north of Atlanta. This year’s survey results also included seven nests monitored in other areas by volunteers or DNR staff.
Considering that the rest of south Georgia, surveyed in alternate years, usually has about 85 occupied nest territories – or active nests – Sargent said the state likely had 200 or more eagle nests for the sixth straight year.
The 2020 survey estimated 126 young fledged from 82 successful nests (those fledging at least one nestling). The rate of 1.5 fledglings per nest matched the long-term average. However, the percentage of successful nests and the number of young fledged per occupied nest territory were lower than average, especially in the northernmost counties – from Hall to Rabun, west to Dade, and south to Floyd and Bartow counties.
“More than half of the latter area’s 15 nests failed to fledge young, and nest territories in the eastern region of the state fledged fewer young than average, too,” said Sargent, a program manager with DNR’s Wildlife Conservation Section.
According to National Weather Service data, Atlanta, Augusta, Clayton, Dalton and some other north Georgia communities received up to twice the rainfall in