FBEC Roost Count Results 2-4-2013

Roost Count Results

Sunday, 3 February. 2013

Hello all you fine Roost Counters!
Collectively, with over 40 volunteer hours, you have counted more eagles in a single roost count than ever counted before by Ferry Bluff Eagle volunteers in 25 years of eagle watching!  Our count Sunday of 430 birds surpasses the previous record of 372 eagles counted on January 23, 2004.
To achieve this count, several important milestones were also accomplished.  At Blackhawk Roost, Ed Proctor and Bill Pielsticker watched birds not only roosting north of Highway 60 in the traditional roost area but also eagles roosting in the Sugar Loaf bluffs south of Highway 60.  The eagles that the Blackhawk team watched roosting at Sugar Loaf, however, could not be seen by counters stationed at Sugar Loaf Roost itself.   The eagles seen by the Blackhawk Roost team used a bowl east of the traditional Sugar Loaf Roost and could only be seen from Highway 60.  Our telemetry data from 2000 and 2001 had recorded eagles using this bowl on Sugar Loaf, east of the traditional bowl, but this is the first time (after 2 years of trying) that our coordinated count ever detected birds using that eastern area of Sugar Loaf. 
Counts of eagles using the traditional bowl at Sugar Loaf tallied 29 adults, 42 immatures and 5 unknown aged birds, while the Blackhawk team counted another 19 adults and 14 immature birds using the eastern bowl at Sugar Loaf.  The total number of birds counted using the Sugar Loaf complex was thus 48 adults, 56 immatures and 5 eagles of unknown age.
In a separate exemplary effort, Joe Howard and Dan Johnson (a new counter) counted Ferry Bluff Roost from the pullout on Highway 60, as well as from the south side of the river in Dane County.  This is the first time that Ferry Bluff has been counted effectively from both north and south.  The record total ever seen at Ferry Bluff was 156 birds, of which 122 eagles roosted along the river side and 34 eagles roosted in the traditional bowl that is observed from Highway 60.  The previous record for eagles counted at Ferry Bluff was 67 birds, 89 birds fewer than counted Sunday.Though high, the number of eagles seen at Blackhawk and Sugar Loaf Roosts were not records.  The maximum seen at Blackhawk was 126 birds (January 16, 2011) while the record number of eagles seen at Sugar Loaf was 131 eagles (January 28, 1996).  With 54 eagles counted at Fox Roost, the next highest number counted was 39 eagles on January 1, 2006, so this roost contained a record number of birds as well.

Of additional interest, most birds flying into Fox Roost came from the northeast and not from the south.  Typically, eagles using Fox Roost come from the Wisconsin River, to the south, but the river is frozen downstream of Ferry Bluff.  Eagles using Fox must either have come from the Ferry Bluff area of the river or from agricultural fields located between Cassell and Sauk Prairie.  No eagles were seen flying from west to east between Jones Slough and Fox Roost.  That is where the largely dormant McDonald Roost is located.  As expected, eagle numbers further downstream at Lone Rock and at Jones Slough were low given the large proportion of ice cover on the Wisconsin River near those stretches of river.  The off-river roost at Leland had few birds and count results for Ederer/Been Roost have not yet been reported.  With recent snows, upland foraging by eagles off river would not be expected to be high because carrion would be covered by snow.

Thank you all for your tremendous efforts.  Please remember that we will count again next Sunday!

Count Results Adult Immature  Unknown Total
Blackhawk 31 39 0 70
Sugarloaf 48 56 5 109
Ferry Bluff 82 64 10 156
Fox 29 11 14 54
McDonald 0 0 0 0
Jones Slough 1 2 0 3
Lone Rock 8 12 10 30
Ederer/Been Pending
Leland 2 3 3 8
Totals: 201 187 42 430
Volunteer Hours:  40


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