It’s cold outside for sure. The Winter winds are already blowing and it is a time when many folks tend to huddle inside and wait for the warmer days ahead to venture outdoors. But if you choose keeping your toes warm over having a real adventure then you will be missing one of the most spectacular winter shows nature has to offer: the arrival of the Bald Eagles.
As we speak Bald Eagles are gathering in places from the Meadowlands to the Highlands, from the Hackensack to the Hudson rivers. From our reservoirs to our lakes Bald Eagles are assembling to spend the winter. And if that is not enough to stir your ancient primeval spirits our resident Eagles are now working on their nests. They’re gathering sticks and grasses in their never ending quest to bring forth our next generation of the symbol of our nation.
Of course this was not always the case. In fact there are more Eagles in our area now than in more than 100 years. But their comeback was no accident.
This was a result of good people doing the right thing when the Eagles needed it the most. The Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act of the 1970s and of course removing the pesticide DDT from the environment set these raptors on a recovery that we enjoy today. We should never take that for granted.
Today, with the continued help of the NJDEP and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who enforce the protections of these magnificent birds, their return from the brink of extinction continues . I do have to laugh sometimes when people tell me they will be traveling to Alaska to see Bald Eagles. I tell them I can save them lots of money and time just by taking a drive to the Hackensack River.
But Our Privilege of having the honor watching Bald Eagles comes with a great RESPOSIBILITY!
No matter how much we are in awe of the Eagles, despite how much we want to get close to them or photograph them, we all need to remember that the health and welfare of the Bald Eagle, and any wildlife for that matter, takes precedence.
I can personally tell you horror stories of tragic results of well-meaning people getting too close to an Eagles nest. Eagles are very susceptible to human interference. Getting too close can result in Eagles abandoning the nest or forcing the young out too soon. This is not only wrong but totally illegal.
In fact, you are not allowed to get within 660 feet of an Eagles nest without State and federal permits. Roosting Eagles also have the same protections from human interference. So enjoy them, but be sure you are at a safe distance. The well-being of the Eagles always comes first!
We are very privileged to have some great places right in our area to watch winter Bald Eagles. River Barge Park in Carlstadt is a great spot all winter long and now the Mehrhof Pond Bird Blind in Little Ferry is wonderful place to watch for these amazing raptors. Wintering eagles can also be seen in DeKorte Park in Lyndhurst. Not far from the Meadowlands the Stateline Hawk Watch along the Hudson River and the Overpeck Creek are amazing places to see our winged wonders.
The honor of seeing Bald Eagles is something I could only dream of when I was a young man. Not in my wildest dreams did I ever think that one day we would be so lucky as to have our Bald Eagle return to its ancestral home here in the Garden State.
But our job is not done. We all need to work together to make sure the Bald Eagle has a place to live and thrive so that we and future generations can enjoy its wonders right here at home.
I would like to thank Dee De Santis for not only the wonderful photos but also for watching over and caring for our Eagles Alice & Al.
Please join us for a celebration of the Return of the Bald Eagle on Sunday, Jan. 20, from 10am to 2 p.m. at Historic New Bridge Landing in River Edge.