Bald eagle watches scheduled

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    New YorK-By 1970, the bald eagle teetered precariously on the brink of extinction in New York State. Protective laws banning DDT, education, monitoring and an aggressive restoration program have helped our nation's symbol make a comeback. New York State is one of the leaders in helping the bald eagle's recovery—from one infertile resident pair to 51 breeding pairs recorded in 2000. In the 1990s alone, the number of young eagles that have fledged from New York nests has soared, from 15 in 1990 to 71 in 2000. The same elements that support our breeding pairs—clean air and water, ample food supply, large undisturbed stands of trees—also attract bald eagles looking for a winter home. Each year, more than 100 bald eagles migrate from their northern nesting areas to New York's rivers and reservoirs in search of open water, food and roosting sites. Even during the coldest months, open water can be found near power plants that discharge water during energy production or from natural flows of tributaries. Also, large, undeveloped tracts of land, some purchased by New York State to protect bald eagles, provide ideal habitat for bald eagles. In recent years, the Hudson River, especially the stretch from Kingston to Croton, has become increasingly popular with bald eagles. Wintering eagles can find fish in the sections of river that are opened up by discharges from power plants. Also, eagles are scavengers and the railroad tracks that run along the river provide an ample supply of dead animals (carrion). The Hudson River region still provides some large tracts of relatively undisturbed land for roosting and perching, especially during winter when human activity along the river is limited. In recent winters, more than 30 eagles have been counted along the lower Hudson River. In 1997, a Hudson River nesting pair produced the first eaglet in more than 100 years; in 1998, three pairs nested along the Hudson and four eaglets were fledged; in 1999, these three pairs fledged five young; in 2000, five pairs raised ten young.