Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Eagles Everywhere

[Immature Bald Eagle along the Avalon Causeway about a week ago.]

Although the Cumberland County Eagle Festival has come and gone (a great event, by the way), there are plenty of places Bald Eagles can be seen in southern NJ. For example, I see one nearly every day i drive to the CMBO Center for Research and Education north of Goshen. My route is north on Route 47, which crosses lots of excellent bald eagle habitat.

If you are looking for eagles (or any bird), think first about where the food is. For Bald Eagles, this means wintering waterfowl, fish, and carrion (like dead deer). Coastal marshes are excellent for Bald Eagles, because besides the food factor they are inevitably ringed with dead and dying trees, a sad consequence of saltwater intrusion from sea level rise, but one that provides excellent perching sites.

In no particular order, spots to look for eagles include Jake's Landing Road, Dividing Creek/Turkey Point in Cumberland County, and Forsythe NWR in Atlantic County. I recently saw 3 dueling Bald Eagles along the Avalon Causeway, and often see them standing on Delaware Bay mudflats at low tide, particularly at Norbury's Landing and "Miami Beach," the west end of Miami Avenue in the Villas.

Last week there was an adult Golden Eagle over Beaver Swamp, just north of CMBO/CRE. Goldens are MUCH rarer than Balds in winter; be especially cautious of immature balds that frequently display a well defined white band at the base of the tail, almost as well-defined as that of an immature Golden.

Pretty much everything you'd want to know about Bald Eagles and their spectacular population recovery can be found on the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife raptor page. The state now has over 150 nests when it once had only 1! Many eagles have already begun nesting for the year.

[Over 1000 people thronged to see eagles at the annual Cumberland County Eagle Festival on February 6, and many ended the day at Turkey Point, where we watched a pair of Great Horned Owls select a nest site. Photo by Debbie Beer.]

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