Do you live in ‘bald eagle heaven’? NJ counts 200+ nests
For the first time on record, a count of bald eagles in New Jersey has spotted more than 200 nest sites.
As recently as the early 1980s, the Garden State was down to one remaining bald eagle nest — a nest that wasn't even producing eggs.
An annual report from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, and the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, monitored 204 nest sites during the 2018 nesting season. Of those nests, 185 were documented as active (with eggs).
Thirty new eagle pairs were found — 20 in the south, nine in Central Jersey and one in the north, the report said.
"It's the first time we've been up over 200 sites, and it continues a recovery that's taken place over the last three decades," said David Wheeler, executive director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. "It's really a great number for the modern era in bald eagles."
More than half of the state's nesting pairs were recorded in the Delaware Bay coastal region. Cumberland and Salem counties, in particular, are hotbeds for the majestic creatures.
"That area is just tremendous habitat," Wheeler said. "It's less densely populated with people, and the coastal marsh is vast. There's no shortage of fish and other prey for the bald eagles to catch. So it's really bald eagle heaven in New Jersey."
Every county except Essex was home to at least one nest in 2018, the report showed.
Conserve Wildlife posts a live "eagle cam" from Duke Farms in Hillsborough (below). Eagle activity at the site has been minimal so far this year.
The massive bald eagle decline last century is mainly blamed on the use of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1972. That ban, along with restoration efforts by state biologists, combined to increase the numbers steadily.
Despite the much healthier numbers today, bald eagles are still on New Jersey's list of endangered species.
"They're still vulnerable to everything from impacts of pollution to disruption of their nest sites to habitat loss," Wheeler said.
Bald eagles were removed from the federal list of threatened and endangered species in 2007, after nearly vanishing completely decades prior.