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Figure 6b. Bald Eagle Christmas Bird Count Data

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Figure 6b. Bald Eagle Christmas Bird Count Data. Iowa Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey Several thousand eagles spend their winters in Iowa, a significant portion of the lower 48 states’ population.

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Iowa Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey Several thousand eagles spend their winters in Iowa, a significant portion of the lower 48 states’ population.

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Incidence of Abnormal Lead Levels in Bald Eagles admitted to Iowa Wildlife RehabilitatorsJanuary 2004 thru March 2011
unsustainable mortality rate
Unsustainable mortality rate?
  • Using rehabilitation data as a sample, eagles admitted from January 2004 thru March 2011;
  • Lead ingestion accounts for over half of all bald eagle mortalities, effectively doubling their mortality rate.
  • When looking at entire data set (n=170), without lead mortality, only 78 eagles would have been admitted for care vs. 170.
  • When looking at the sub sample of those tested for lead (n=131), only 39 eagles were admitted with known normal lead levels.
estimates of number of eagles dying from lead in iowa
Estimates of number of eagles dying from lead in Iowa

The number of eagles admitted to wildlife rehabilitators is only a portion of the eagles dying each year. Band return rates have been used to estimate the probability of the public finding an animal and reporting it (Green, personal communication). The band return rate for bald eagles is 15%. Number of eagles admitted with abnormal lead levels / .15 = Estimate of Total Eagle Deaths due to Lead Ingestion.

On average, approximately 82 eagles are dying in Iowa each year due to lead ingestion.

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After spending over 30 years on the Endangered/Threatened List, Bald Eagles are still listed as a species of Special Concern and as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Iowa

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Most eagles admitted with lead in their systems do not survive,of 86 only 6 were able to be released (7%).
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