Shepherdstown's longest-running televised mini-drama -- the saga of the nesting American bald eagles on the campus of the National Conservation Training Center -- is the subject of a new, three-part series of audio podcasts available on the NCTC Web site. Hosted by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national historian, Dr. Mark Madison, NCTC Director Jay Slack and Steve Chase, chief of NCTC's Division of Education Outreach, review the history and future of bald eagle nesting on the 533-acre training campus, and the circumstances surrounding the failure of the nest in 2011.
The televised nest site, broadcast on campus and around the world for the past 7 years, has become a popular destination for Web surfers and a valuable window on bird biology and local natural history, as nine young eaglets have been produced in one of eastern West Virginia's most productive eagle nests. "A huge, global community has watched these eagles," says Chase. "We've enjoyed 7 years of relatively straightforward eagle biology, but this year there was an upset in the balance of power and breeding." The sudden appearance of a third bird, thought to be a new male, disrupted this season's nesting. One of two eggs failed to hatch and the lone nestling died, presumably because the adults were busy defending their territory. That's all part of nature, says Slack, and NCTC overseers had "no intention of intervening, letting nature run its course. Prime nesting sites are always contested, and that's a good indication of a healthy, strong population."
The three podcasts may be accessed on the NCTC Web site. In addition, the "Eagle Cam" Web link provides updates and access to the Outdoor Channel's live, streaming video. According to Jay Slack, the camera will be kept "live" for the remainder of the 2011 breeding season as a means of monitoring the adult birds.
For the most current information about the eagles, visit the NCTC eagle update page.
-- published --
April 14, 2011
-- photo credit --
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