The number of bald eagles — a species that once came dangerously close to extinction — in the United States has more than quadrupled over the last dozen years despite massive declines in overall bird populations, government scientists announced Tuesday.
A new survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found that since 2009, when the last count was taken, the number of eagles had soared to an estimated 316,700 in the lower 48 states. At the species’ lowest point in the 1960s, there were fewer than 500 nesting pairs in those states.
Though bald eagles have been steadily recovering, the latest figures surprised even scientists who study avian populations.