Tag Archives: eagle

Bald eagle holding a fish in its talons at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Ron Holmes/USFWS

From one to 135: New Jersey’s bald eagle success story

Bald eagle egg

Eagle egg collected when New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program fostered a chick in Camden, N.J. Photo Credit: Kathy Clark/NJENSP

In 1982, New Jersey’s only remaining bald eagle nest failed for at least the sixth consecutive year.

Every year, the eagle eggs at the Bear Swamp nest were just too thin to withstand normal incubation—a result of residual contamination from the pesticide DDT. With hopes of securing a future for the species in the Garden State, biologists intervened.

“In a delicate procedure, we removed the egg after just two weeks, replacing it with a fake egg to keep the adults incubating at the nest,” says Kathleen Clark, a biologist with the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP). “The real egg was delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland for artificial incubation.”

Photo from eagle hacking project

To help recover the bald eagle in New Jersey, biologists also brought in young wild eagles from Canada and raised them until fledging. This photo is from that hacking project.

With the help of lightweight, incubating chickens, the eagle egg hatched. After two weeks of monitoring, the eaglet was placed back into the nest at Bear Swamp. Artificial incubation continued successfully at Bear Swamp until 1989, when a new adult female, unimpaired by DDT, began nesting and was able to hatch eggs without assistance. The eagle nest remains active today.

Check out other stories of endangered plant and animal conservation in the Northeast – We’re sharing them throughout the year!

While biologists worked to make Bear Swamp productive, they tackled another project that involved bringing in young wild eagles from Canada, where they were common, and raising them until fledging. The project ran from 1983 through 1990, and resulted in the release of 60 young eagles.

“Bald eagles now grace the skies over New Jersey’s coastal rivers, estuaries, farmland and woodlands,” says Clark. “But this resurgence blossomed only recently, after decades of work by biologists in our program and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” … Read the rest of the story!

Want to see a bald eagle?

Today you’re hearing from Sarah Nystrom, the eagle coordinator for our region.

While many people think fall and spring migration or summer nesting season is prime time to spot this iconic bird, I suggest heading out now in search of this amazing experience.

Bald eagles, with their distinctive white head and dark body, can be easier to see in winter. Other birds can be harder to identify in their drab plumage.

Not to mention, it’s National Bald Eagle Watch Month!

During the winter months, bald eagles tend to gather in areas that have a good food supply. A hungry eagle will eat just about anything that they can get their talons on. Fish are the majority of their diet when there is open water, but they will also prey on ducks and geese. Carrion, including deer carcasses, can be easier to find in the winter. Bald eagles may fly dozens of miles from one food source to another in winter, so a consistent source of food can be very important.

Bald eagle holding a fish in its talons at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. Credit: Ron Holmes/USFWS.

Bald eagle holding a fish in its talons at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. Credit: Ron Holmes/USFWS.

In the Northeast, there are a few places that would be well worth a winter trip:

  • Bald eagle sightings are increasing in Massachusetts. Once very rare, populations have increased to 38 nesting pairs. The Quabbin Reservoir supports a healthy population of wintering eagles, which can be seen from the Enfield Lookout. Check at the visitor’s center, located at the southern end of the Quabbin off Route 9, for more information.
  • The Merrimack River Eagle Festival is coming up! Staff and volunteers will be available to help you spot eagles and answer questions on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Joppa Flats Education Center and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, Mass. Only in the winter do bald eagles migrate to the lower Merrimack River, where the water stays open for the birds to fish.
  • The Delaware River provides opportunities to see congregations of wintering bald eagles. You won’t even have to go far from many urban areas in the Northeast if you’rein New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Find specific eagle viewing locations in this area.
  • The eastern shore of Maryland is a great spot to see abundant bald eagles throughout the year. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge hosts the greatest nesting density of breeding bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida. Wintering eagles are drawn to the refuge by the abundance of migratory geese and ducks. You may even get a rare glimpse of a golden eagle, which are sometimes sighted on the refuge. The refuge is hosting their 13th Annual Eagle Festival on March 9, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Join refuge staff for free programs celebrating birds of prey. Call 410-901-6124 for more information or email ray_paterra@fws.gov.
Bald eagle at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. Credit: Susan Rachlin/USFWS.

Bald eagle at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge in Philadelphia. Credit: Susan Rachlin/USFWS.

Whenever you head out to look for eagles or other wildlife, keep in mind that human presence can be stressful to wildlife. To avoid being disruptive and get better eagle sightings:

  • Stay in or near your vehicle at roadside viewing areas.
  • Stay more than 330 feet from eagles.
  • Move quickly and quietly to observation blinds and try to stay hidden from the bird’s view.
  • Avoid making loud noises, such as yelling, slamming car doors and honking horns.
  • Use binoculars or a spotting scope to view the birds from a comfortable distance
  • Never attempt to make an eagle fly.
  • For your safety, always pull completely off the road and park in designated areas.
  • Never stop in the middle if the road if access to the road shoulder is blocked by snow and ice.
  • Also be prepared for snow, ice, and mud. Dress for cold weather, with waterproof footwear, hats, gloves and plenty of layers in case conditions change.

Now, will you put “Seek out a bald eagle sighting” on your 2013 bucket list?

Gifts from nature: Culture

What do several Marvel and DC Comics characters share with American author Henry David Thoreau and French impressionist Claude Monet? Mother Nature gets credit as the muse for these cultural icons. Today we highlight her influence and role in the culture of Native American tribes.

A tribal member holding an eagle feather to fan a bundle of sage during a sunrise ceremony on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine's Acadia National Park. Credit: D.J. Monette/USFWS.

A tribal member holding an eagle feather to fan a bundle of sage during a sunrise ceremony on top of Cadillac Mountain in Maine’s Acadia National Park. Credit: D.J. Monette/USFWS.

During this season of holiday giving, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to take time and reflect on the gifts we receive throughout the year from Mother Nature. Gifts of Nature are treasures to behold and wonders to be thankful for.

Since time immemorial, Native Americans have used the many precious natural resource gifts offered by Mother Nature (Mother Earth) for their survival and existence. As the first stewards of our country’s natural resources, Native Americans learned and developed the management skill of only taking and using what was necessary to survive.

Giving thanks was a common practice that typically followed the taking of these precious gifts. In fact, the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) people have long used an oral traditional message or address of giving thanks that has passed down from generation to generation, acknowledging and appreciating the natural world.

Additionally, certain gifts of nature, such as bald (once endangered) and golden eagles, today play a significant cultural and religious role in many Native American lives. The Service recognizes this through its National Eagle Repository distribution process to Native Americans.

So as you prepare for your own holiday traditions this year, consider how they connect to Mother Nature and her great outdoors.