by Shawnlei Breeding, EagleWatch Program Manager
“These are unprecedented times” has become the slogan for 2020. The year’s shifts have been both deep and broad, encompassing personal, social, economic, and even conservation issues. Monitoring programs, including EagleWatch, pivoted to find creative ways to gather critical data during the pandemic while prioritizing the safety of volunteers and staff.
At Audubon, the safety of our staff and volunteers remains paramount. We supported both as the EagleWatch program adapted to the pandemic.
We do estimate that our ability to monitor roughly 20% of our nests was impacted by the shelter-athome mandate and the closure of public areas, and unfortunately we lost key data for many nests or were forced to make educated assumptions for other nests with reduced datasets.
Despite these limitations, the Audubon EagleWatch Program finished strong in May with another year of growth. Nest monitoring coverage expanded into five new counties (Glades, Jackson, Levy, Suwanee, and Walton) and more than doubled in eight of the counties where EagleWatch focused on expanding efforts. EagleWatch now monitors nests in 65% of Florida’s counties. The number of nests monitored by EagleWatch grew 15%, from 740 nests last year to 852 nests this season.
I am so proud of all that our volunteers accomplished this season, and I hope the following stories inspire you as you read about what a passionate, committed group of people can do to help wildlife and wild places.
To read the full EagleWatch report, click here.