Learn How to Help Monitor Eagle’s Nests in Salem

Posted on January 28, 2023

Salem, Ore. — Join Salem’s Eagle Monitoring Team! A two-part training will start January 31.

The first part starts with the technical side of the process on Tuesday, January 31, in Loucks Auditorium from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Volunteers will learn:

  • Information about bald eagles, their nesting patterns, and nesting timeline.
  • Learn where our eagle nests are located and the best locations for viewing them.
  • How to sign up for observation periods, equipment needs, and time commitment.
  • How to answer the questions in the field questionnaire based on your observations of the nest and eagle activity.
  • How to use Survey123 on your personal cellular device or desktop computer to submit your observations.

The second part of the training will be on-site at Minto Brown Island Park on Saturday, February 4, from 10 a.m. to noon, starting in Parking Lot 3. Volunteers will visit several observation stations and practice monitoring the Minto Brown Eagle Nest. Bring good walking shoes, a rain jacket, binoculars or a spotting scope, and anything else you need to be comfortable walking and standing outdoors for two hours.

Volunteers will have an opportunity to monitor two nests this year. In addition to the Minto-Brown Eagle Nest, a nest on Audubon property across from Riverfront Park is also included this year.

Monitoring started as a way to learn about the nesting pair at Minto Brown Island Park in order to determine how best to balance the needs of the bald eagle pair with recreation and park management needs.

“Monitoring provides evidence that the things we’re doing are not impacting the eagles,” City Ranger Mike Zieker explained. “The volunteers sit out there and watch the eagle’s nest and the eagles. They check off boxes on behavior. Are the eagles perched? Working on the nest? Incubating? Feeding their young?”

They also keep track of the kind of human activities that are occurring in the vicinity of the nest at the same time and noting anything that appears to cause disturbance.

Eagles mate for life, using the same nest throughout their lifetime, so assuring their nests are undisturbed is particularly important, especially in the first few years. The first year the nest was identified in Minto Brown Island Park, the City worked in consultation with US Fish and Wildlife Service to create a perimeter around the nest tree and close trails on both sides during nesting season.

On the second year, with a USFWS permit and monitoring program in place, the City opened one of the trails to use, keeping other trails closed.

This year, which will be the third year since nest establishment, the City will be leaving all trails in the nest buffer open to general recreational use. This is largely due to the volunteer monitoring data collected last year that showed the eagle pair was not disturbed by most activities in their buffer and provided evidence that the pair successfully fledged its chick.

“Every year the eagles come back, they get more and more comfortable and acclimated,” Mike said. Visitors on the trail are encouraged to stay on the trail and move along. If they want to watch, they should watch from at least 1,000 feet away.

If you’d like to join the Eagle Monitoring Training, please contact Amanda Sitter, City of Salem Parks Volunteer coordinator, asitter@cityofsalem.net, 503-589-2197.

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