One neighborhood along the mighty James River hosts an abundance of eagles

Posted at 12:19 AM, Jan 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-15 06:55:29-05

Wow. The eagles have certainly landed on the coastal plains of Virginia.

One neighborhood on the mighty James River in Prince George County is seeing dozens of them.

"I'm probably seeing at least five times more to ten times more than what we normally see this time of the year, which is their nesting and mating time," said Bill Godwin, a resident of the Jordan on the James community hard by the river. He believes he's seen as many as 50 or more in recent weeks.

I went Wednesday afternoon to check it out and in a half-hour, saw more bald eagles than I've seen in all the previous years of my life. One after another, younger ones and plenty of mature, majestic ones.

"You've got to have a revolving head out here," Bill said as we sat on the dock on his back yard, trying to keep up with all the eagles soaring and calling. "You might never see this again, so you need to take it all in . . . "

He showed me a photo one of his neighbors took on Sunday showing at least 16 young eagles perched on a house roof, almost like a scene from Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds."

You just don't expect to see eagles grouped up like that.

But young ones that haven't mated will, explained Jeff Trollinger, deputy director of wildlife resources for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.  Once they mate, they're much more territorial, he explained.

There's no doubting the resurgence of bald eagles. Their populations started plunging here about 60 years ago because they were at the top of a food chain that included pesticides that have since been controlled.

We all know the story of their comeback.

But this many?

Is there some kind of population explosion going on? We'll know more in coming weeks. The eagle populations are carefully tracked.

But Trollinger believes this is likely the usual annual gathering this time of year of both migrating eagles hanging out in this food-rich zone and resident bald eagles going about their January nesting.

"As soon as the weather will clear up just a smidge," Jeff said, "a lot of them will take off and go north from us."

The abundance of eagles means a neighbor's duck and another's cat fell prey to the powerful hunters.

And Jeff said the crowded populations can actually make it harder for young eagles to find mates.

But for raptor watchers, this is prime time right now.

"It's great," Bill Godwin said as we watched the sun go down on the water, the eagles settling for the night. "You get to see an awesome bird - symbol of the United States."

How about you? Are you also seeing an abundance of eagles?

Let us know. And check out the video.