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Biologists find hurricane damage to eagle nests

Saturday - 9/10/2011, 9:49am  ET

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. - Hundreds of baby squirrels aren't the only animals impacted by Hurricane Irene.

Biologists have found that Irene destroyed and damaged a large number of bald eagle nests along the James River.

The Center for Conservation Biology of Virginia Commonwealth University and the College of William and Mary says nearly 21 percent of 154 nests were lost, and about 23 percent were damaged. Researchers conducted an aerial survey of the nests a week after the Aug. 27 storm.

The damage was widespread, with the heaviest damage centered around Hopewell.

It was comparable to that following Hurricane Isabel in 2003, when 40 percent of eagle nests were damaged or destroyed. Eagle pairs that lost nests were less likely to breed and their reproduction rate fell. Reproductive rates improved two years later and were back to normal during the third breeding season.


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