How New York’s Bald Eagles made their comeback

Bald Eagles like this one live in New York.

Bald Eagle, Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, Cayuga, New York. Photo by Tina Cox.

In the October 2016 issue of BirdWatching, Joe Trezza writes about Vito and Linda, the first Bald Eagles to nest in New York City in 100 years. Thanks to the work of scientists and projects like New York’s Bald Eagle Restoration Project, the pair is joined by many other eagles, both in New York and in surrounding states.

In 1976, eagle lovers could count only one active Bald Eagle nest in all of New York State, so scientists tried bringing the species back with the same time-consuming process that was already working with Peregrine Falcons.

They imported wild eaglets from Alaska, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin and captive-bred birds from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife breeding center in Patuxent, Maryland, hand-reared them to independence, and then released them. The first hack site was at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, near Seneca Falls.

According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the scientists got proof they were on the right track four years later, when a pair of Montezuma’s eagles was discovered nesting about 90 miles to the northeast, near Watertown, at the eastern end of Lake Ontario. The birds hatched two chicks, one of which made it to fledging.

New York’s Bald Eagle Restoration Project reached its goal of establishing 10 breeding pairs in 1989, and was ended. Today, around 200 pairs nest in the state, including Vito and Linda. Better yet, two juvenile eagles have been seen interacting with them since the beginning of August. They appear to be New York City’s first naturally reared Bald Eagle chicks since at least 1914.

New Jersey, which started its own hacking program in 1983, is home to another 156 breeding pairs.

Starting in 2002, the Urban Park Rangers, a division of New York City’s Parks and Recreation Department, relocated 20 Bald Eagle chicks to Inwood Hill Park, at the northern tip of Manhattan. One of the birds subsequently nested successfully in Overpeck County Park, across the Hudson River in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The species was removed from the federal Endangered Species List in August 2007.

Our October 2016 issue, containing Joe Trezza’s article about Vito and Linda, is now on sale at Barnes & Noble and other newsstands.

New York City’s celebrity Bald Eagles make history again.

See photos of Bald Eagles.

Five Peregrine Falcon sites in the Windy City.

 

New to birdwatching?

Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now.

See the contents of our current issue.

How to subscribe to BirdWatching.