Bald Eagles of the Hudson River
by Bob Rancan
Saturday, January 22, 2022
What a day to go traipsing around looking for Bald Eagles! For the last 25-30 years, the winter season has brought good numbers of these magnificent birds down to the lower reaches of the Hudson from frozen regions to the north. In addition, in New York state, after a reintroduction program in the eighties, there were 15 breeding pairs in 1990, 43 by 1997, 254 by 2014 and 323 by 2017. A Hudson River breeding pair produced the first eaglet in 1997 and today there are many nests along the Valley. For spotting big numbers on any given day, it helps to have a cold day and floating ice in the river. When everything is frozen solid up north, more birds gather to find food.
So, February 5th brought us icy conditions from the previous days' rain, temperatures in the low to mid-twenties and ice chunks along the shore and floating with the tide. At or five stops our bundled-up group spotted about three dozen eagles, young birds and adults, perched, standing on the ice, and flying about. At least two probable mated pairs flew together and circled around each other...a little courtship thing.
The forecast of icy conditions kept our group numbers down but we had a game crowd of nine show up ready for the show. This year's Eagle Fest at Croton Point Park had been cancelled again because of Covid 19 but the folks from Saw Mill River Audubon had tents set up at two locations with spotting scopes and hot chocolate. Thanks for their hospitality and thanks to Al G, Sumonnat K, Alan R, Barbara P, Mary Ann H, Joe M, Lee Mc, and Alex T for joining me.