Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blogging Adirondack Bald Eagles

Blogger, and part time Adirondack resident, Tigerhawk (who knew he was the cousin of another great semi-local blogger Walking the Berkshires) has posted photos of a pair of nesting Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, with little ones) above his camp. He is expecting “periodic showers of whitewash, partially eaten small mouth bass, and the bones of small mammals” on his deck from the feeding birds of prey.

Experts note that “the bald eagle is a long-lived bird, with a life span in the wild of more than 30 years. Bald eagles mate for life, returning to nest in the general area (within 250 miles) from which they fledged. Once a pair selects a nesting territory, they use it for the rest of their lives.”

The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from “Endangered” to “Threatened” in 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and was delisted as “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” in June 2007.

The Adirondacks was once home to plenty of bald Eagles, which can stand three feet tall and weigh up to 14 pounds, with a wingspan of four feet. Estimates of Eagle populations in the lower-48 during the 1700s ranged from 300 to 500 thousand, but by the 1950s there were just 412 nesting pairs.

According to the great wiki:

The species was first protected in the U.S. and Canada by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, later extended to all of North America. The 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act in the U.S., which protected the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle, prohibited commercial trapping and killing of the birds. The Bald Eagle was declared an endangered species in the U.S. in 1967, and amendments to the 1940 act between 1962 and 1972 further restricted commercial uses and increased penalties for violators. Also in 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. DDT was completely banned in Canada in 1989, though its use had been highly restricted since the late 1970s.

With regulations in place and DDT banned, the eagle population rebounded. The Bald Eagle can be found in growing concentrations throughout the United States and Canada, particularly near large bodies of water. In the early 1980s, the estimated total population was 100,000 birds, with 110,000–115,000 by 1992; the U.S. state with the largest resident population is Alaska, with about 40,000–50,000 birds, with the next highest population being the Canadian province of British Columbia with 20,000–30,000 birds in 1992.

According the DEC, they are still listed as Threatened in New York State:

The New York State Bald Eagle Restoration Project began in 1976 in an attempt to reestablish a breeding population through hacking (hand rearing to independence). Over a 13 year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected (most from Alaska), transported and released in New York.

The hacking project ended in 1989, when it accomplished its goal of establishing ten breeding pairs. The bald eagle program’s focus has now shifted to finding and protecting nesting pairs in New York, and monitoring their productivity. Bald eagles continue to do well; in 2005 New York had 92 breeding pairs, which fledged 112 young. Each year, New York’s bald eagles fledge about 10 percent more young eagles than the year before.

Here is a (rather unlikely) story which you can take for what it’s worth. In 1912, Milton Stelves of Glens Falls reported that he was “nearly killed in a fight with a bald eagle” near a North Creek lumber camp. Stelves was walking into camp when he spotted two eagles on the carcass of a calf. He drew up his gun and killed one of the birds but the other came straight for him. Before he could reload it was on him and he was hollering for help and trying to beat it away with the butt of his rifle. A man coming to the rescue beat the bird to death with a club. According to Lowville Journal Republican it measured nine feet from wing tip to wing tip and weighed in at 72 pounds.

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John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.




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