The number of recorded, active bald eagle nests in Nebraska declined by one in 2013, which took Nebraska Game and Parks officials by surprise.
In 2013, 102 active nests were recorded in the state, down from 103 in 2012. This is the first year, since 1991, that there hasn't been an increase.
"In past years, increased survey effort produced proportionally more active nests," Joel Jorgensen, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's nongame bird program manager, said. "We have been accustomed to annual increases."
The reason for the flat nest numbers is unclear, though it is possible that prey resources bald eagles depend on may have been reduced during the drought of 2012. Future nest monitoring will determine whether the 2013 results represent a leveling off of Nebraska's bald eagle population or just a temporary pause in long-term increases.
Officials said the number of bald eagle nests recorded in Nebraska in 2013 is still 10 times greater than the recovery objective identified in the 1980s by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.