A mysterious phenomenon has some Fairfax County residents delighted and scientists baffled.
Dozens of bald eagles descended on a neighborhood in West Springfield. And even more people came to see them.
Shortly after the bald eagles started arriving at Huntsman Lake, word went out on the Internet. Soon after, bird watchers and nature lovers started to flock here as well.
"To have 20 in your backyard is unusual, but it's a beautiful thing," says Ed Gloninger, a West Springfield resident.
In the past couple of weeks fish began dying off in large numbers. The birders believe the large quantity of dead fish lured the eagles to this suburban neighborhood.
The state has identified the dying fish to be the gizzard shad—they are a species that are highly susceptible to fluctuation in temperature.
“Something may have happened in the water column where the temperature changed quite quickly and they had a die off. It's not uncommon,” said Fairfax County Natural Resource Specialist Charles Smith, who visited the lake in an effort to check on the eagles as well as reassure the people gathered there.
The number of eagles gathered at the lake has been dwindling. “The birds have now cleaned up the water column and removed the fish and the food is gone so the eagles are moving on,” Smith said.
For fans of the eagles, there is a bit of good news: since the eagles came to the lake to feed once, they will likely return again.