Chuck Gibson slowly drove by the Cayuga-Seneca Canal on a Friday morning. Marcia Phillips sat in the back seat, peering out the window.
“Any big blobs you see over there, make me aware,” Gibson said, nodding his head towards the bare trees on his right. “You might see it before I do.”
Twenty-five minutes later, Phillips tapped on her window. Up ahead, a large bird glided through the sky.
“An eagle!” Phillips exclaimed.
Gibson stopped the car. He rolled his window down and looked through his binoculars. “Yes, that’s one immature eagle,” he said. Phillips pointed out another, flying next to the first. “Okay, two immature eagles,” Gibson said. “And they’re just out there having a good time riding the wind.”
Gibson and Phillips weren’t just eagle watching. They were two of 32 volunteers tasked with counting bald eagles for the mid-winter survey at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Feb. 8. In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Geological Survey, volunteers and wildlife professionals in over 40 states have participated in this annual survey since 1979 to develop a population index for bald eagles.
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