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A pair of bald eagles sits perched in a tree near an office parking lot on Buttrick Road in Londonderry. (PHOTO COURTESY VINCENT J. BYRON)

A record 67 bald eagles in Granite State logged in midwinter count

LONDONDERRY — Bald eagles photographed here last week are among 67 bald eagles in the midwinter count, 14 of them in the Merrimack River Watershed.

An additional eight bald eagles were found just over the border in Maine and Vermont. Although they visit the Granite State, they aren’t part of the midwinter count.

This was the 34th year of the midwinter count, said New Hampshire Fish and Game Department Wildlife biologist Mike Marchand. “It was a record year this year,” he said.

The midwinter count does include Canadian bald eagles who come south for the winter.

“They are looking for open water,” he said. Their diet is fish, small mammals and smaller birds.

The 2013 nesting count showed 29 active nests, which means at least one egg, said Marchand. “Twenty of those (nests) were successful.”

That means at least one baby fledged, although there may have been up to three eggs laid in the nest.

“Not all nests are successful,” said Marchand.

Nests are usually built high in white pines, but heavy winds and rainstorms sometimes cause problems. Both male and female incubate and protect the egg or eggs.

“They are a large bird, and they can defend their nest quite well,” he said.

Bald eagles are 3 feet tall, with a 6- to 8-foot wing span.

Marchand said the population is recovering well.

“It’s still rapidly increasing,” he said, adding that there is plenty of habitat left to support a larger population.

Bald eagles are no longer on any federal protection list. In New Hampshire, they are not listed as endangered, but they are considered threatened and are legally protected. Possession and take, which includes harming, harassing, injuring and killing, are illegal.

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