Witnessing the recovery of the bald eagle
Bald eagles are actually becoming a “common” bird in this area! More and more sightings of our national bird have been made in various locations around Western New York.
I’ve had many friends and readers approach me over the last several months telling me that they think they saw an eagle. Just about always they describe the eagle just right, with a white head and white tail. Because of the eagles’ plight and having been so uncommon, people often need that little extra affirmation of what they saw.
Farmers are having the best results as they do their field work and can watch these fantastic birds of prey in action.
Often the eagles also enjoy fresh road kills such as deer that have died only a few yards away from the road. (But don’t get them mixed up with the turkey vultures!) The eagles are so large that they are easy to see as they fly with their long broad wings perfectly level. Perched, they are also quite an impressive sight whether on the ground or up in a tree.
The eagles make large nests and begin nesting early in the spring. They need a large tree to support their heavy nest. This nest grows in size year after year as the adults keep adding sticks and other nesting materials.
Since eagles like fish they are naturally attracted to areas with bodies of water such as lakes, reservoirs, and rivers. Also, these wetter areas often are places where some of the largest trees have grown for over one or two hundred years.
You may recall that the easily visible eagle’s nest along Route 20 in Alexander went down when its tree tipped over in a big storm a couple of years ago. The new location for these eagles is in a big tree that can be seen from Rt. 98 on the south side of Alexander. Until the leaves came out in spring one could see the nest and the eagles quite easily. Both of these nests were along the river — again where there are big trees near water.
Another area that has eagles is the Attica Reservoir which is a beautiful body of water. Mark Dadd from Attica took me over there when we were working on the April bird count. We instantly saw the eagles and osprey, and many other interesting water fowl, etc.
Silver Lake has been a great place to see eagles for the lake residents and for the several surrounding farmers. These eagles are spotted year round. I believe they are nesting on the state park lands on the south end of the lake.
Letchworth Park is a great place to see eagles as it is believed that several pair nest there and around the area. If you take a raft ride down the Genesee you are likely to see eagles – both immature and adult. In my travels to the Geneseo and Avon area I have seen eagles many times as have several of you. I’m sure they are nesting in various places along the Genesee River.
Immature eagles look all brown as the adults don’t get their white head and tail until they are at least three years old. Still, the eagles’ size and the way they fly are often good field marks of an immature eagle. For several years now eagles have been nesting in our area and for much longer than that, the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.
It is so nice to see that eagles have made a great recovery in our area. So in your travels, if you think you saw a bald eagle, chances are that you really did! Enjoy these large majestic powerful birds that represent this wonderful country of ours!
Hans Kunze is an avid birder and nature enthusiast. He writes for the LCN twice each month. He and his wife own and operate a bird feeding store at their home in Wyoming, NY. You can reach Hans with questions about birds and his shop by writing to him at 6340 LaGrange Rd Wyoming, N.Y. 14591 or by calling 495-6797.