Shawnlei Breeding, Audubon EagleWatch Program Manager writes (December 24, 2019):
Happy Holidays to you!
As 2019 comes to a close, I have much to be grateful for, and one of those things is the privilege of working alongside all of you in the EagleWatch program. We had about 250 volunteers attend training in the fall and about half have come on board and are now monitoring and reporting on nests. To all of the new volunteers who have joined us this season, welcome to the family! I hope you are finding the experience to be fun and rewarding. Remember that we have a closed Facebook group for active volunteers, Audubon EagleWatch, that you may join to ask questions or share photos. To all of the returning volunteers, your dedication never fails to encourage and inspire me. Keep up the great work!
To date, you all have visited, attempted to find or are monitoring 750 nests, submitting 4600 nest observations! Whew! The database has been humming. Many of our pairs are on eggs now, and the early nesters already have eaglets! If your nest doesn’t appear active yet, please don’t give up. The incubation phase is notorious for deceiving volunteers into thinking the nest is abandoned. We’ve had pairs lay eggs as late as April, so there is still a good chance your nest may be active later. That’s why it’s so important that you keep visiting your nest AND entering your observations for the remainder of the season to document the true status of your nest.
I am currently running year-end reports for nests that don’t have any observations in the database yet, or volunteers who were active last season but haven’t submitted observations yet this year. So I may be reaching out to you in the next few weeks if one of those categories applies to you. I completely understand that “life happens” sometimes. If your availability to monitor has changed, please don’t feel bad, but do let me know so we can make sure your nest is covered for the rest of the season. Likewise, if you have moved or have new contact information, please let me know so I can update your volunteer record.
Submitting your monitoring data is one of the main requirements for EagleWatch volunteers. If you are visiting your nest but haven’t been reporting yet, please do take time to submit your observations to the database in the next week or two. Reports of “no activity seen” are just as important, so please do consistently enter those comments for your nest. It confirms that the nest is being monitored and is truly inactive as opposed to “unknown due to lack of monitoring”. Above all, having current observations in the database is valuable when I’m contacted by developers, cell tower or power companies, or state or federal wildlife agencies seeking updates on your nests to help guide management decisions. So thank you for regularly entering your observations in a timely manner.
The pace in my office has been pretty relentless this fall. As a result, I have not been able to stay on top of reading nest observations as much as I’d like to. If you have something time sensitive going on at your nest, please email or call right away to let me know so I can help in a timely manner. For those who live in counties with a volunteer county coordinator, they are a great resource for you as they are more familiar with your area and can offer expert guidance, so don’t hesitate to contact them first.
If you are on this mailing list but are not an active volunteer and would like to be, it’s not too late. Let me know and I can send you the training information to get started. We still have nests that need help in several counties. If you are a new volunteer but are not yet signed up to use the database, email me and I can send you that information to begin reporting. If you are a returning volunteer and are having trouble accessing the database, I’m here for tech support, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Often the issue is a simple fix!
Thank you again for all you do, for making my job so much fun, for caring about wildlife and wild places, for sacrificing your time and effort to visit nests and educate others about the wonders of Bald Eagles. I’m excited to see what 2020 brings. Here’s to another successful nesting season for our pairs, and to a blessed and peaceful new year to you and yours.
Have a wonderful holiday!
Audubon EagleWatch Program Manager
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
1101 Audubon Way
Maitland, FL 32751
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