EagleWatch and You

Quick Reference for Active Eaglewatch Volunteers

Eagle at Pony Farm by Randy Matthews Photo by George L Veazey, III Hillsborough Eaglets Hatching
by Roger Newell Photo by George L Veazey, III Photo by George L Veazey, III HL52 Eaglet by Steve Tryon HL52 Adult by Steve Tryon
Click on the i in the upper left for Photo Credits

   Program Objectives

Since urban eagle nesting activity in Florida has increased dramatically in the last decades, the Audubon EagleWatch Program seeks to:

  • Compile data for publication to document urban nesting activity
  • Emphasize monitoring of urban pairs to record long-term nesting trends
  • Identify potential threats to nesting success since most threats are related directly or indirectly to human activity
  • Expand Audubon EagleWatch on a statewide basis while generating increased public awareness of our national symbol. This will include programs designed to educate the citizens of Florida in ways to help ensure the continued recovery of the bald eagle.

What laws protect Bald Eagles today?

We must protect out eagles

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) – specifically defines illegal acts including "the take of any Bald Eagle…alive or dead, or any part, nest or egg thereof." 'Take' also includes "to pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill capture, trap, collect, molest, or disturb." Fines can be $5,000 and/or two years of imprisonment.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) – protects migratory species with fines for violations ranging up to $2, 000 and/or two years of imprisonment.

What does Audubon EagleWatch accomplish?

The Audubon EagleWatch Program started in 1992 in the Central Florida region, with only 22 volunteers. Today the program is statewide, reaching more communities each year and continuing to heighten awareness of Bald Eagle nesting activities throughout the state. Recent accomplishments include:

  • Monitoring 270+ nests, more than 20% of the state's population
  • Utilizing over 250 informed volunteers to monitor active nest sites
  • Locating and verifying an average of 6 new nests per year
  • Saving nests from destruction by illegal development
  • Promptly rescuing fallen eaglets after storms
rehabilitated eagle being released

Photo by Nancy Murrah – Release by Lynda White
of a juvenile eagle in Polk County

"We do really important work. I just hope that everybody realizes that the birds will always need protecting and just because they are off the endangered species list doesn't mean that we shouldn't still be looking after them and protecting them and just enjoying them."

Lynda White –Audubon Center for Birds of Prey Coordinator for EagleWatch 1998-2012

Learn More

Get directions and instruction from your EagleWatch Coordinator listed below. You can do this either by attending an EagleWatch Workshop or by contacting your coordinator and receiving an electronic copy of our Training Manual "How to Monitor Florida's Bald Eagles."

Your Coordinators are:

Useful Stuff

Eagle Watch Support Team

TAS has organized a group of volunteer citizen scientists to monitor eagle nests in Hillsborough County for the Eagle Watch Program. Nancy Murrah is our coordinator, and she can be reached at 813-205-1851 or at nancy.murrah@tampaaudubon. All volunteers learn about bald eagles. We have a training manual/program that you will receive or attend when you sign up. The data is shared with the Audubon center for Birds of Prey and is an important factor in ongoing research and future management of the species. Only two reports per month are required per nest. You can choose to have more than one nest. Also we like to have a minimum of two volunteers (more are welcome) for each nest.

TAS currently has 20 active Eagle Watch Volunteers who monitor 20 active nests and a few that are were not active during the 2011-12 season. We would like 20 more!

Eagle Watching is meaningful and fulfilling. Watching our national bird is spectacular!

If you are not a current volunteer but would like to be for the 2012-2013 Nesting Season please contact Nancy Murrah at: eaglewatch@tampaaudubon or by phone at: 813-205-1851.

Volunteer Tools

How you can help: You can become a volunteer or donate funds specifically to EagleWatch to help our efforts.

  1. Sign up by filling out a EagleWatch Volunteer Form.
  2. Choose one or two nests that you can watch at least twice a month during nesting season. Ideally, it's best to have two people assigned to each nest. You can also go to Florida Wildlife Commissions web site and enter "eagle nests" in the search field on the FWC site. It allows you to enter your address and look for eagle nests around you anywhere in Florida.
  3. Get directions and instruction from your EagleWatch Coordinator. You can do this either by attending an EagleWatch Workshop (check back as we are currently scheduling dates) or by contacting your coordinator and receiving an electronic copy of our Training Manual "How to Monitor Florida's Bald Eagles."
  4. Start visiting "your" eagles.
  5. Complete a nest visit form (slow loading) and send via email to Nancy Murrah.
  6. For a List of all of the Nests in Hillsborough County, click here.
  7. Visit the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida.
  8. If you would like to make a donation, please make the check out to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey. The check can be given to your coordinator or mailed directly to the center.

Our Biggest Challenge for the Upcoming 2012 - 2013 Season: Cell Towers

Our biggest challenge for the next nesting season will be to get watchers for all of our nests and continue to check all our cell towers in Hillsborough County. Over the last few years many cell towers have been built in our county. Unfortunately, we hold the statistic for having the highest number of eagle and osprey nests on manmade structures. Our motto (to quote Barb Walker) is "leave no cell tower unchecked." We need to get a better handle on where all our nests are and how many are active in order to have a more accurate count for the 2012 - 2013 Season. Click here for listing of American Tower Corporation Cell Towers in Hills Cty.

Did you know?

Eagle nests are numbered by county then by number. The nests in Hillsborough County all start with HL, Polk county PO, Pinellas County PI, Pasco PS, etc. Then they start numbering them as they are found. The nest to the right is HL051 (photo b Nancy Murran). It is in Hillsborough County and was the 51st nest identified by FWC.

  • Eaglets are bigger than their parents when they fledge
  • An adult eagle weighs on an average 8-10 pounds
  • The legal distance to stay from an eagles nest is 330 ft

If you would like more information on this fascinating program, you can download the Tampa Bay Area EagleWatch Brochure in PDF format.

Don't forget to visit the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida!