Don Torino’s Life in the Meadowlands: January Is Prime Time for Meadowlands Eagle Watching

Courtesy: Ron Shields

Courtesy: Ron Shields

The Bald Eagle, the symbol of our nation, was once on the brink of extinction. In the 1960s many wildlife biologists believed that we had reached the breaking point, and there was no hope of ever bringing this magnificent raptor back from the edge.

And yet many good people believed that with help the Bald Eagle could once again fly over its ancestral lands like the  Meadowlands. Thanks to the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act and the removal of DDT from the environment more than 40 years ago we now get to witness one of the most incredible comeback stories in wildlife history: the Return of the Bald Eagle

Credit: Jill Homcy

Al and Alice (Ridgefield Park Bald Eagles) Credit: Jill Homcy

From a single New Jersey nest in 1980 we now have more than 150 active nests in the Garden State. While it is still listed as endangered in New Jersey, we can see more  Eagles today than in more than 100 years. Besides the nesting pairs of Eagles we have in our area many more Eagles can be seen spending the winter in places like the Meadowlands.

As winter presses on and the lakes and rivers to the morth of us freeze up the Bald Eagle will move down to places with open water like the Meadowlands and the Hackensack River to hunt for fish and even waterfowl.

Watch for eagles in the  Meadowlands flying over the water, perched in large trees and standing on the ice flows in places like River Barge Park , Mill Creek Point Park and Laurel Hill County Park.

A bit outside the Meadowlands area look for eagles along the Passaic and Hackensack rivers in places like Foschini park in Hackensack and Brett Park in Teaneck. In fact, keep an eye out in any large body of water in our area that remains open, like large reservoirs and lakes.

It is possible you may be watching a Bald Eagle and not even know it as it takes 4-5 years for a Bald Eagle to gets its legendary white head and tail. In their five year development to adulthood, Bald Eagles go through one of the most varied plumage changes of any North American bird. The first year the Eagleis dark-colored, changing progressively until it reaches adult plumage. Even the beak and eye color changes as the bird reaches maturity.

Growing up in the Meadowlands I could never have dreamed or even imagined that one day I would have the privilege of watching Bald Eagles so close to my home. Just the thought of which still gives me goose bumps.

Today I have the honor and joy of helping everyone appreciate and understand this incredible creature and how it made its way back home, something I hope we never take for granted.

For more info on the Bald Eagle go to

And for some upcoming Local Eagle events:

January 8th (Sun) 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – “SAVE THE EAGLES DAY”

Join us to watch Alice & Al, our local nesting Eagles, and rally to help protect the Eagle nest on the Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield Park.  Meet on Bell Drive –Ridgefield.

Contact: Don Torino 201-230-4983


January 14th (Sat) 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM – “Where Eagles Fly”

Join us at historic New Bridge Landing for a day of history on the comeback of the Bald Eagle to the Hackensack River! Contact: Don Torino 201-230-4983

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