CASPER, Wyo. — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming said in a press release Thursday that 95 volunteers assisted in an eagle count on the morning of January 8, 2022 along 1,500 miles of public roadways in the Power River Basin.
A total of 576 eagles were counted, including 376 bald eagles and 153 golden eagles, with the remaining 47 eagles of undetermined species. BLM’s Buffalo Field Office coordinated the survey, which was conducted as part of the nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey.
In addition to the eagles, volunteers observed a variety of other raptor species in the area. BLM Wyoming said the most common types were rough-legged hawks and red-tailed hawks.
The eagle counts in the Powder River Basin have been conducted each year since 2006, with an average of 400–500 eagles counted per year. The 576 eagles counted in January 2022 was a new record high, breaking the previous high of 547 in 2016.
“Despite some cloudy and snowy conditions hampering visibility the morning of the survey, the number of golden eagles increased by 20 from last year, while the number of bald eagles counted remained about the same,” BLM Wyoming said. “Several survey routes reported more eagles than usual, suggesting an increase in population across this basin this year. Eagles were seen in larger groups, often feeding on roadkill carcasses. Frigid weather during the week prior may have also contributed to the increase in observations.”
BLM Wyoming said that while hundreds of eagles can be seen in the Powder River Basin in winter, “only a few of them nest in the area.”
“A greater number of golden eagles remain in the Powder River Basin to breed,” the press release states. “The additional winter populations migrate north in February, March, and April. The information gathered by the survey is used by wildlife researchers and managers nationwide. At the local level, the data helps BLM determine important habitats in the Buffalo Field Office, consisting of Campbell, Johnson, and Sheridan counties.”
BLM’s survey coordinator Charlotte Darling said that the agency relies on the help of volunteers and it had enough volunteers to cover all routes this year.
“Our volunteers are essential to the survey, and every year, we have people of all ages helping us out,” Darling said. “It’s great to have so much participation and see such a wide interest in citizen science. We truly appreciate our volunteers’ continued support.”
People interested in volunteering in the count next winter can contact Darling at 307-684-1045.
“To learn more about the national program or to see its results, visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bird Initiative website at https://corpslakes.erdc.dren.mil/employees/bird/midwinter.cfm,” the release concludes.