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Photos: Eagles on the James

We got up early Saturday and joined Capt. Mike’s Discover the James Tours. We were lucky enough to see eagles, lots of eagles.

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Capt. Mike runs the Discover the James tours and on our expedition, we saw around 15 different eagles. There are quite a few nesting pairs that have staked out their territory along the James and this time of year there is an almost equal number of transitory eagles in the same area.

The James River runs through it … through the City of Richmond and just minutes downriver is an incredible opportunity to see resident bald eagles in their natural habitat. This 3-hour, pontoon boat tour takes you into the midst of an ecosystem rich with wildlife, history and beautiful scenery. Discover the James’ Bald Eagle Tour takes you through an six-mile stretch of the James River known as Jefferson’s Reach, encompassing eight territories of resident bald eagles.

The tour focuses on the sixteen resident bald eagles in Jefferson’s Reach. Resident eagles do not migrate and live within their territories all year long. During the year, two additional populations of bald eagles migrate into the area. In May, summer migratory bald eagles, from the south (mainly Florida), arrive and these eagles are gone by the end of September. In mid November, winter migratory eagles arrive from the north and stay into February, then begin their departure, returning to their breeding grounds.

The tour is currently operating under Covid-19 restrictions and limiting the number of folks on each tour and masks are required. More information on Facebook and here.

Eagles aren’t the only bird you’ll see.

This is Bandit and she has an amazing story of survival.

Read more about Bandit (aka Dolly) here.

Bandit enjoying lunch.

The wingspan of an adult Bald Eagle can reach 7.5 feet.

A juvenile Bald Eagle. It takes about 5 years to get full adult plumage.

 

A few more Bald Eagle facts from Cornell Lab.

  • Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up. A Bald Eagle may even snatch a fish directly out of an Osprey’s talons. Fishing mammals (even people sometimes) can also lose prey to Bald Eagle piracy. See an example here.
  • Had Benjamin Franklin prevailed, the U.S. emblem might have been the Wild Turkey. In 1784, Franklin disparaged the national bird’s thieving tendencies and its vulnerability to harassment by small birds. “For my own part,” he wrote, “I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. … Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District.”
  • Sometimes even the national bird has to cut loose. Bald Eagles have been known to play with plastic bottles and other objects pressed into service as toys. One observer witnessed six Bald Eagles passing sticks to each other in midair.
  • The largest Bald Eagle nest on record, in St. Petersburg, Florida, was 2.9 meters in diameter and 6.1 meters tall. Another famous nest—in Vermilion, Ohio—was shaped like a wine glass and weighed almost two metric tons. It was used for 34 years until the tree blew down.
  • Immature Bald Eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day. Some young birds from Florida have wandered north as far as Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.
  • Bald Eagles occasionally hunt cooperatively, with one individual flushing prey towards another.
  • Bald Eagles can live a long time. The oldest recorded bird in the wild was at least 38 years old when it was hit and killed by a car in New York in 2015. It had been banded in the same state in 1977.

If you’re a fan of original content like those photos above be sure to give our Instagram and Dickie’s Backyard Bird Blind Bonanza on FB a follow and consider making a donation.




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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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RVAH2O Now Giving the People the Straight Poop on Sewer Overflows

This real-time technology and data makes Richmond’s the first “Smart Sewers” in Virginia.

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Full credit to Whit Clements for giving me that headline of this announcement from RVAH2O.

Big Update (and Upgrade!) for Combined Sewer System Overflow Events in Richmond! 📣

Real-time data is now viewable in an interactive map that looks just like the one above so you can know exactly where and when overflows occur (and plan your James River visits accordingly!).

(The map is linked in perpetuity in our bio as “Check for Combined Sewer System Overflow Events Here” but you can also bookmark the link for rainy days!)

Here’s how it works: just hover over (or, on your phone, click on) any of the remaining 25 overflow points in Richmond to see the last time combined flows were discharged—and just like that you’ll be up-to-date!

Red triangles give you a quick notification that there’s been an overflow event in the past 48 hours. 🔺

When you see yellow boxes, that means our team is recalibrating those sensors and meters. 🟨

This up-to-date system will replace the email alerts of the past (which were triggered and automated when it rained 0.1″ at the @richmondairport, which doesn’t always reflect rainfall within city limits).

This new map uses:

  • meters at each outfall to quantify flows
  • rain gauges in Richmond
  • real-time data that’s updated continuously!

This real-time technology and data makes Richmond’s the first “Smart Sewers” in Virginia (we love being trendsetters)! 🧠🌊

And this system will help us to maximize and fully utilize the capacity within our system to prevent overflows and reduce overflow volume!

We know y’all love accurate information and continuous updates, so we hope you’ll love this upgrade and map made for you too!

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Outdoors

Help the James River this Saturday for the Regional Cleanup Day

The James River always needs a little help. This Saturday it will hopefully get a lot of help from volunteers.

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Join the James River Advisory Council in its 22nd year of cleaning up the James River and its shorelines! The cleanup is a cooperative, regional event spanning more than 75 miles of the James River at 13 sites. Walkers, powerboats, paddle craft, and hikers will participate in a limited capacity, social distancing. We hope to see you at one of our various sites throughout the watershed! Volunteers will need to register!

Please remember to dress comfortably (closed toe shoes) bring gloves, masks, trash bags, grabbers, water, insect repellent, sunscreen, and hat (optional).

Some of the localish sites include:

Chesterfield County

  • Dutch Gap Boat Landing and Conservation Area
  • Falling Creek Ironworks Park
  • Falling Creek Reservoir

City of Petersburg

  • Lakemont Neighborhood
  • Pocahontas Island

City of Richmond

  • Ancarrows Landing
  • Belle Isle
  • Brookland Park Boulevard
  • Pony Pasture Rapids

Goochland County

  • Tucker Park at Maiden’s Landing

Henrico County

  • Osborne Park and Boat Landing

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Birders Rejoice, You Can Put Your Feeders Back Up But Keep’em Clean

The most important advice to follow if you decide to put your feeder back up is that you need to clean it once a week and disinfect with a 10% bleach solution.

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Earlier this year it was advised to take down all bird feeders due to a unknown disease that was killing many songbirds. Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) stated that no definitive cause has been determined. The good news is that incidents of the disease, which involved birds exhibiting eye issues (swelling, crusts, discharge, etc.), along with neurological symptoms, have declined to such a point that DWR feels it safe to put your feeders back up.

They posted these guidelines along with the all-clear.

Residents that choose to feed birds or provide water in bird baths should remain vigilant for avian mortalities and consider the following best practice guidelines:

  • Clean feeders and bird baths at least once a week, then disinfect with a 10% bleach solution to prevent potential infectious disease spread between birds and other wildlife. After cleaning, rinse well with water and allow to air dry.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling bird feeders and baths and wash your hands when finished.
  • When feeding birds, follow expert recommendations, such as those listed in Audubon International’s Guide to Bird Feeding.
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead wild birds.
  • Avoid handling wild birds. If you must do so, wear disposable gloves or place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird. Dispose of dead birds in a closed plastic bag in household trash. Alternatively, you may bury bird carcasses at least 3 feet to prevent any disease transmission to scavenging animals.
  • If you observe any additional bird mortalities in Virginia, submit a mortality event to the DWR.

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