Conserve Wildlife Blog

Wild for Volunteers Guest Post: Monitoring Bald Eagles During a Pandemic

April 25th, 2020

by Barbara McKee

Barb fully prepared with her mask, in case of running into people in the remote area she is monitoring (left) and physically distancing on the banks of the Delaware (right).

In these unusual days, under threat of a potentially lethal pandemic and state mandated “social distancing”, I am so thankful that some of my “best friends” are bald eagle pairs and their nestlings! I observe and report on 6 nests in central and northwest NJ.

I am fortunate in that my viewing spots are all on land and roads which are not off limits. Yet most of my viewing locations are remote enough that I rarely have to confront people!

The nests in northwest Jersey are in especially remote locations. It is rare that I see even a couple cars on the roads en route to these nests, and even more unusual is seeing another person. Viewing two of these nests requires me to carry my gear a half mile while bushwhacking through rhododendron thickets.

But then I am on the river, it is calm and peaceful, and all I hear are the sounds of nature waking up in the early morning, feeling the sun rise on my face, and seeing and hearing the hungry eaglets begging their parents for breakfast! This is the perfect stress reliever needed in these troubled times!

Occasionally I have help with the two most remote nests. While these are 60-80 miles from my home, our friend (and fellow eagle project volunteer) lives near the area. When he joins me, we walk in to the viewing site separately, and set up our equipment at least 20-30 feet apart. This is social distancing as it should be!

Note: For the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the communities where we work, CWF is only performing essential wildlife monitoring and conservation duties. While in the field, staff and volunteers are practicing social distancing and following all state and CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you Barb for being a dedicated volunteer and for sharing the video clips below of some of your favorite moments from previous years’ monitoring:

“Mom and one of the nestlings are in the nest and Dad flies in with a huge wad of grass/hay to line the nest bole….keeping it clean, dry and comfy for his kids!” 

“In 2018, a 15 week old fledgling was still hanging around the nest (for two months it stayed!). Here he is perching in a tree, taking a moment for a nice stretch.”

One Response to “Wild for Volunteers Guest Post: Monitoring Bald Eagles During a Pandemic”

  1. Mary Jane Horner says:

    Nice photos.

    Red and I are fortunate as well, although our nests are not that remote. We are able to observe without close human contact. It is a real pleasure to be able to get out and observe nature in such a meaningful way. Another benefit of being a WCC volunteer!

    Mary Jane Horner

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