Eagles in Fairfax County lake draw a crowd

Eagles in Fairfax draw a crowd, concern

While the eagles perch in trees, soar above, or dive for fish, people in the area continue to brave the nasty weather to watch them.

For over a week, bald eagles have congregated on the banks of Virginia’s Huntsman Lake. The sight of these majestic birds both dazzles and worries the spectators.

A large fish kill apparently lured the eagles to the lake.

“I’d hate to see a bunch of eagles died because of something we’ve polluted,” said Mona Verrico, a West Springfield resident.

While scientists work to find out what killed the fish, those who came to see the eagles fear that these large predators may be harmed by their prey.

PHOTOS: See eagles in Fairfax.

“My worry is what's killing the fish and if it’s something toxic are the birds gonna get it because they are feeding on it,” said Tamara Elassal, a West Springfield resident.

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.