Each breeding season CCB biologists climb aboard a Cessna 172 aircraft and fly two sets of survey missions to locate nests and track productivity of bald eagles. The flights cover the tributaries of the lower Chesapeake, the lower Delmarva Peninsula and other prominent bodies of water. They consist of over 100 hours of flight time. Flying at treetop altitude, biologists survey existing nest structures as well as newly established nests in the first sets of flights from late February to the end of March. Then, in late April through May, they fly a second survey to check occupied nests for productivity and to recheck occupied territories for breeding – flying low enough to examine the nests closely and record the number of eaglets.
In the 1970s, vast areas once occupied by eagles revealed nothing – no nests or activity. By the early to mid-1980s, however, breeding pairs began to reoccupy sites as the population began its recovery.
Today, there over 1,000 nest structures and more than 730 breeding pairs which have produced close to 1,000 chicks.