HOLDERNESS — The most recent sign that the repopulation of New Hampshire bald eagles has been a success is on display on Big Squam Lake this summer: A pair of bald eagles nesting has been found to be raising three healthy eaglets.
“It’s a great sign that the bald eagle in New Hampshire is doing very well,” said Iain MacLeod, executive director of the Squam Lakes Natural Science Center and a raptor expert.
There are now about 40 nesting bald eagles in the state, MacLeod said. They are here after the state lost most if not all of its bald eagles by the 1970s.
The science center and the New Hampshire Audubon Society and New Hampshire Fish and Game officials have been monitoring and managing the state’s recovering bald eagle population for more than three decades. In 1989, a bald eagle hatched in the northern woods of Errol, and wildlife officials said it was the first new arrival of its kind in the state in 40 years.
Wildlife experts at the time blamed the departure of the birds on the widespread U.S. usage of the insecticide DDT, which was found in large amounts in dead eagles, authorities said.
New Hampshire benefitted from other states’ bald eagle restoration efforts, mostly from the Massachusetts’ efforts near Quabbin Reservoir, MacLeod said. Bald eagles, which had nested in the state during winters, started appearing in numbers after the first birth in 1989, which was from a pair of birds that were born near Quabbin.
“It was a pleasant surprise to have them come back, particularly in such large numbers,” he said.
According the Audubon Society’s Chris Martin, the number of territorial eagle pairs in the Granite State increased from 35 pairs in 2012 to 40 pairs in 2013. In fact, since the late 1990s, the state’s breeding population has been doubling roughly every 4-5 years.
The pair on Squam that is nesting now also came from Quabbin, or at least the female bird did.
“There appears to be a younger male bird with the same female bird,” he said. “The female and the male that was with her have been there since 2003, but there is a new male, we’re not sure why.”
This is the third set of triplets raised in this nest in the last four years, making it one of the most productive nests in the state, MacLeod said.
Last year, the female and another male failed in their nesting attempt during a day-long ice storm in April. This year’s pair has produced chicks are now within a couple week of taking their first flights.
Their nest, on Long Island in the middle of the lake, is viewable from the science center’s special lake tours that run every day through the middle of October.
The nest is a stop for all of the center’s Squam Lake cruises. For more information, go to www.nhnature.org.