Pipestem Eagle Survey

Have you ever seen an eagle in the wild? Now’s your chance!

An Eagle Soars through the blue skies of WV Photo courtesy of the WV Dept of Commerce

An Eagle soars through the blue skies of WV
Photo courtesy of the WV Dept of Commerce

Head to Pipestem Resort State Park on March 5 for their annual eagle survey. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced birdwatcher or if you just love the thought of spying a majestic predator in the skies.

Each year, novice and professional birdwatchers pair up and canvass the skies and waterways around Pipestem for elusive golden and bald eagles.

Seeing a bald eagle on any given day in West Virginia is still pretty rare, but it used to be virtually impossible. According to the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, the first recorded bald eagle nest in the state was discovered in 1981. Before 1992, spotting an eagle above Southern West Virginia was simply out of question.

In 2010, the area’s first breeding pair of eagles was confirmed in a towering American sycamore tree on Brooks Island. They delighted followers with several seasons of babies, but hopes were dashed in  2014 when both mates died in train and vehicle collisions. Soon, a new pair by the name of Brooks and Sandy settled into the empty nest, sending locals’ hopes soaring.

The eagle population has continued to rise, and luckily, Southern West Virginia now has an established population. There are sometimes more than 50 bald eagles in the area during winter, said Jim Phillips, a naturalist who has been heading surveys in the Pipestem Area for the last 11 years. He added that there are about 10 nests within an hour or so of Pipestem.

“Bird populations serve as a barometer for the environment,” Phillips said. “If something has an ill effect on them, then it will eventually affect us, too. They are as important as we are to the environment.”

On March 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can be a part of history as you stake out and wait for one of these majestic creatures to show off.