LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The annual count at Lake Mead found 151 bald eagles and four golden eagles.
That’s down from last year’s count, when 185 bald eagles were sighted, according to Kelsea Larsen of the National Park Service. Since 2010, the average number of bald eagles counted during the survey is 138. The previous high came in 2011, when 178 bald eagles were spotted.
A number of other raptors were also spotted during the survey, including peregrine falcons, red-tailed hawks, ospreys, prairie falcons, northern harriers and kestrels, according to Larsen.
Bald eagles were listed as endangered in 1967, close to extinction in the lower 48 states. The species has recovered since then.
The survey has been performed each year since 2010 — with the exception of 2019, when there was a government shutdown.
A low count of 113 came in 2016. Lower counts in 2015 and 2017 were attributed to a lower number of volunteers involved in the count.
The survey dates to the 1990s and is part of the national effort to track the population of bald eagles across the country. Eagles are an indicator of the ecological health of an area, and can usually be spotted from late-November to March at Lake Mead and Lake Mohave.
Many bald eagles migrate south to the area in winter. Bald eagles generally return to the same nesting territory year after year. Their territories vary with the availability of food, according to Lake Mead’s website.
Both male and female eagles help build the nest, which is usually constructed up high in with a good view of the surrounding area. Frequently, bald eagles have two or three nests within the same nesting territory, rotating between nests from year to year. Eagles construct the largest nests in North America.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.