Bald eagle nestlings in Arizona fall to 71 during 2019 breeding season

An increase of bald eagle breeding areas this year didn't result in more nestlings in Arizona.

State Game and Fish Department officials say there were 71 eagle nestlings during the 2019 breeding season, down from 87 hatched last year.

During the department's annual bald eagle survey, raptor biologists counted a minimum of 74 occupied breeding areas statewide - up from the 69 counted last year. But the number of eggs laid dipped from 102 last year to 97 this year.

The number of birds that made their first flight fell to 63 from the 70 recorded in 2018.

Arizona's bald eagle population has flourished since 1978 when 11 pairs were counted within the state and the species was listed as endangered.

There currently are an estimated 74 adult breeding pairs.