2017 was another record-breaking year for bald eagles in Nebraska.
Joel Jorgensen, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission nongame bird program manager, says they counted 209 active nests in the state.
“We’ve actually seen bald eagles colonize a lot of the prime habitat along major river valleys, previously,” Jorgensen tells Nebraska Radio Network. “Now, they’re actually moving out to areas we would consider less optimal habitat.”
That includes within the city limits of Omaha, Lincoln, and Grand Island.
It was 1991 when Nebraska recorded its first active and successful bald eagle nest in about a century.
Jorgensen says while populations are stable, eagles still face threats from being shot and killed, or harmed by power lines.
The success in bringing back the bald eagle to Nebraska means a change in how the state tracks the animal.
Jorgensen says with more than 200 nests and growing, they cannot physically count and check them all each year.
“We’re actually sampling a proportion of nests and using information from our database of 26-27 years, extracting information from that to estimate the nests that we don’t check, if whether they’re active or not,” he explains.
He says the new tracking method is more efficient, now that the bald eagle population is secure and growing.
AUDIO: Mike Loizzo reports [:36]