Bald Eagles Over the Hudson

An hour north of New York City, the Hudson River Valley is absolutely lousy with Bald Eagles. If you’re old enough to remember, this is a radical change from the 1960s-1980s. In 1981, there were no occupied territories [a category that doesn’t even necessarily include breeding pairs] in Connecticut, only one in New Jersey, and two in New York. We’ve made a huge effort to help these enormous and magnificent birds of prey come back from the brink of persecution and poisoning. Yet, right now, pieces of Republican shit are working in Washington and elsewhere to undo and erase this achievement and many others in search of their own poisonous profit.

A recent scouting trip up the river to George’s Island Park and Croton Point Park, both on the east side of the river, had us losing count of eagles overhead, perched distantly, and standing on ice and shallows across the river. We counted eleven at the same time here. This is an imprecise census, though. The four that went over head, did they circle back? There was lots of motion among the perched birds, too. At Croton Point, on the capped landfill, there were ten visible simultaneously, four in air, the other six perched in two different locations. From the boat launch at the south end of the Metro North station, you could see four perched over the mouth of the Croton River (the small bay there was remarkable free of ice and waterfowl). Two flew away from that direction as we approached. Another was on the Croton Bay side, where earlier four could be seen.

So how many eagles did we see all told? Lots. And of all ages. Those are third (left) and second (right) year birds in the first image. The old heads, with the distinctive white heads and tails, are five years old or older; younger ones are a mottled mix of plumages. As the pictures suggest, the birds clustering around the Hudson this time of year are not all that close most of the time. (We were much closer in Staten Island this summer.) The best views are usually of the birds in the air, sometimes passing near, and in the distance, their great regal bulks in trees and on the ice.

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