Look up to the skies and you may just see our nation’s symbol of strength and freedom.
Of all the lower 48 states, Florida is said to have the largest bald eagle population. The birds are a magnificent sight to see, with their seven to eight-foot wingspan, snow-white head, and contrasting dark plumage.
Sadly, after recent hurricanes in the past few years, many of the eagles’ nests were destroyed, leaving the birds stranded. Warming temperatures and rising seas have also left many eagles displaced over the years. But just like what it symbolizes, the bald eagle has remained resilient, rebuilding nests within the state. Recent data from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Audubon Florida shows that there has been a nine percent increase in nesting pairs since 2008.
In 2007, eagles were removed from the endangered species list. The Commission continues to monitor the population of nesting bald eagles as it has since 1972, and helps looks after the bird, which remains protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
If you’re itching to get outside and do some bird watching, you will likely be able to see some eagles in coastal areas like Bayport, Pine Island, Weekiwachee Preserve, and Chassahowitzka Wildlife Management Area. Inland waterways and forests are other great spots to see an eagle. Just remember, when near a bald eagle, make sure to follow the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Eagle Watching Etiquette guidelines.