Remember the first time you ever spotted a bald eagle in the wild? Unless you’re quite young, it probably wasn’t in the Hudson Valley. I saw my first pair through binoculars, soaring high above Chesapeake Bay, in 1993. Before then, bald eagles seemed almost like mythical creatures, near extinction and only to be found in the remotest of places.
Nowadays, of course, we in the mid-Hudson are blessed with a burgeoning population of these charismatic raptors. I’ve seen them nesting in tall pines next to the Ashokan Reservoir, diving for fish in the Hudson by Kingston Point, roosting in that big sycamore that dominates the Plattekill Gorge, off the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail just south of New Paltz. Spotting a bald eagle still seems a thrill and a privilege, but it’s no longer terribly rare.
The story of the national symbol’s comeback is a fascinating and heartening one. In 1997, a nesting pair in Greene County produced the first fledgling in the Hudson Valley in a century. This past breeding season, 19 years later, Hudson River watershed bald eagles produced more than three dozen new eaglets. The work and dedication of a lot of environmentalists and scientists went into making this region a healthy habitat for these magnificent birds once again.
Want to learn more? Join Tom Lake, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Estuary Program naturalist and editor of the Hudson River Almanac, on Wednesday, November 9 at the Rosendale Community Center. Sponsored by the Rosendale Public Library, Lake will give a talk on “The Recovery of Hudson Valley Bald Eagles.” The lecture begins at 7 p.m., and admission is free.
The Rosendale Community Center is located at 1055 Route 32 in Rosendale. For more info, call (845) 658-9013 or visit www.rosendalelibrary.org.