The Town of Melbourne Beach wants residents to help document and report American bald eagle sightings as eagles have been making a growing number of cameo appearances in the area since November.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), bald eagles are flocking to Florida in droves – with an estimated 1,500 nesting pairs, who seem prefer to cluster near coastal areas, rivers and lakes.
The bald eagle, which was removed from the endangered species list in 2007, remains protected.
Melbourne Beach Mayor Jim Simmons said he saw one flying overhead recently as he biked around town, and posts began appearing on the social media site Nextdoor, from various residents who had observed a bald eagle near Gemini Elementary School.
Commissioner Sherri Quarrie heard about the sightings and reached out to the FWC, which put her in touch with a program manager for Audubon Eagle Watch. They sent a volunteer to town, who observed two bald eagles.
“Residents of the town started a posting on the Nextdoor app. Everyone seemed amazed that they saw an eagle at Gemini. I personally have never heard of an eagle in the area until this post,” Quarrie said. “There wasn’t a nest on the FWC maps close to the barrier island, so I didn’t understand where this eagle lived. I know there are very strict protection guidelines for eagles, so I thought they should know about it.”
Tracking the location of nesting bald eagles helps educate researchers – and serves to keep a watchful eye on their safety.
Quarrie has asked all residents to watch for them and share the location of any sightings – as well as whether they carried nesting material when spotted.
Sightings can be shared by contacting Melbourne Beach Town Hall at 321-724-5860 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
When a nest is found, Quarrie said it will be added to the FWC nest location map.
“We will keep everyone informed where the ‘Eagles have landed’ if they decide to make Melbourne Beach their new home,” Quarrie said.