The Bald Eagle in NYC 1866 to 2022

Updated: Feb 7


5 February 2022


A year ago at this time we lost Tom Ahlf, one of the finest people of the New York City birding community. After a year we are still at a loss for words to describe what he meant to us, and especially to his significant other, Mickey Berger. In 2021 we devoted an issue of this Newsletter to Tom: click here.


Herein we try our best to synthesize the long history of the Bald Eagle in our area. Who knew that in 1866, a Baldie spent two months in Central Park! In the 19th century (until about 1880), Bald Eagles were well-known in winter on the Hudson from Manhattan north - but numbers of them were on the order of 5-15 birds - seen on ice flows in the Hudson. Even John Burroughs writes about seeing them in winter (excerpt below) with what he thought were Golden Eagles, all eating fish. In the 1880s, as hunting [gun] technology improved, this eagle declines significantly - seeing one was a big deal. Fast forward through further declines in the DDT era to the 1990s, when some states in our area start releasing Bald Eagles brought as fledglings from Alaska. Eagle numbers "take off": by 2009, approx. 25 pairs of eagles were nesting along the Hudson River. On 27 December 2006, an adult Bald is photographed carrying a fish down the west side of Central Park, and being harassed by a Red-tailed Hawk ("Pale Male" - photo below from Lincoln Karim). Further north on the Hudson on 26 February 2011, Mark and Rose Kolakowski count 125+ eagles on ice flows near the Bear Mountain Bridge. In mid-February 2014, Thomas Schuchaskie photographs the first Bald Eagle we are aware of in Central Park, that caught a Ring-billed Gull on the Reservoir and ate it in a nearby tree (photo below). In 2016 came the first report of Bald Eagles [possible] nesting in NYC, on Staten Island, and a story appears on-line (article below). Back in Manhattan starting in 2018, birders head to Inwood Hill Park (northern Manhattan on the Hudson) in Sept-Oct on days when winds are strong from the northwest to look for southbound migrating eagles: David Barrett counts 25+ Bald Eagles on 12 October 2018. And in Central Park in January 2022, a Bald Eagle ("Rover") starts frequenting Central Park, and is seen catching Ring-billed Gulls on the wing at the Reservoir (photo below)....


When you think of Bald Eagles in NYC Parks, think (a) winter when ice forms on freshwater ponds/reservoirs and the Hudson. It sure seems it was much colder in the 19th century, because eagles were regularly seen late December-early March each winter on ice chunks in the Hudson; and (b) to see migrants, look to the sky starting in mid-August when there is a hint of northwest winds. A few will appear with flocks of Broad-winged Hawks. Peak migration in October on strong winds from the northwest.


[below] Slaty-backed Gull on the Central Park Reservoir - 2 February 2022 Deborah Allen

The rarest gull ever to be found in Central Park (these gulls are resident in the western Pacific (eg. Japan); this is the first occurrence in NYC (but not NY State). Deborah's photo shows a third winter plumaged individual. Note "string of pearl" white dots on the black primary tips; the light-colored eye, the (dark) pinkish legs and large-size. In flight there is a wide white area on the trailing edge of the wing (somewhat visible in this photo as the white area above the black primary tips). The similar Lesser Black-backed Gull would have yellow legs and smaller white "pearl spots" on its outer primary feathers . See this site for additional photos + descriptions of Slaty-backed Gulls from juvenal to adult plumage.

In this week's Historical Notes we present information about the Bald Eagle through time in our area, with a focus on NYC itself. We have several excerpts below (apologies) and the best are (a) a February 1876 note from the naturalist John Burroughs on many Bald (and Golden??) Eagles on Hudson River ice near NYC; (b) a 1912 article from Connecticut about a Bald Eagle about to seize a two year old girl but her dad saves her; (c) and for the really indulgent, way way below are accounts by ornithologists on the number of eagles in the area 1843 (Long Island - common) to 1949 (rare in Central and Prospect Parks).


adult Bald Eagle in Pelham Bay Park (Bronx) in August 2018 Deborah Allen. Note the light-colored [yellow] eyes: most adult large diurnal raptors have dark eyes as adults, and light eyes as juveniles. Northern Harriers and Bald Eagles are exceptions to this.

Lots of White-capped Albatrosses (Stewart Island, NZ) on 29 November 2019
Good! Bird Walks for Early February 2022

All Walks @ $10/person - all in Central Park (except where noted)

Directions to All Meeting Locations can be found here


1. Sunday, 6 February at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive $10


1. Sunday, 13 February at 9:30am (Only!) Boathouse Cafe; 74th st/East Drive $10

2. Saturday, 12 February: TBA

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Any questions send them our way: rdcny@earthlink.net or call: 718-828-8262 (home)


Bald Eagle ("Rover" with R7 black band) on the Central Park Reservoir on 2 February 2022. Originally banded as a fledgling at a Connecticut nest in 2018 (see banding info, second photo below). Rover appeared in NYC in December 2021 (Prospect Park); since then in Greenwood Cemetery (Brooklyn) and starting in January 2022 in Central Park - often catching Ring-billed Gulls when ice forms on freshwater in our parks. Deborah Allen

[Gibson's] Wandering Albatross on 22 November 2019 at Kaikoura Bay (South Island, New Zealand)

The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through early January 2020. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!

If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.

Carolina Wren by Deborah Allen on 10 November at Shakespeare Garden (Central Park)

Bald Eagle (larger female on left) Washington State on 21 March 2018 by Deborah Allen


Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)


30 January (Sunday) meeting at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe. No bird walk today as the Ramble was full of snow from yesterday's storm (about 8-10inches). Add to this the cold (circa 15F at 9:30am), we thought it prudent to postpone the walk. Please, please (please): if the weather seems "iffy" check the web site for a note on cancellation We usually post them by 10pm the night before so people can make plans. If no note is posted, the walk will take place as scheduled. For this past Sunday (30 Jan), we posted a cancellation by 5pm late Saturday afternoon.


Deborah's List of Birds in Central Park for Sunday 30 January: No Bird Walk! Snow!

White-capped Albatross near Stewart Island, New Zealand on 29 November 2019

Juvenile, British Columbia 26 February 2016 Deborah Allen

HISTORICAL NOTEs


Notes from Our Correspondents [February 1876]. ­John Burroughs (Esopus-on-Hudson) says, "I have seen an extraordinary number of eagles on the Hudson this Winter. Yesterday from the car window I saw eight in the vicinity of West Point:­ four bald eagles at least, and three black or golden eagles [see photo above of a juvenile/first year Bald Eagle], and one I could not determine. The black eagles were sitting on the floating cakes of ice, or hovering over them. The bald eagles were high in air, sailing round and round. Passing down the Hudson the last of December I saw three black eagles on the ice. About the first of December I saw several golden eagles in the fields near Kingston, and one day soon after a bald eagle flew-along by my house. Why this great flight of eagles? Have others observed and noted this?"


Bald Eagle in Lower Manhattan [September 1887]. During the storm yesterday afternoon, residents in the northeastern part of the city witnessed an inspiring sight. The wind was high, and increasing from the northwest, and a large black eagle, estimated to measure at least six feet from tip to tip of his wings, flew down with great rapidity toward the lake shore [Collect Pond]. He evidently sought to recover himself, and attempted to beat back against the gale of wind in which he had been caught. Observers were of the opinion that a powerful cyclone was passing in mid-air to the southeast, and that he had been caught in its vortex, from which he found it impossible to escape. He often would rise as if to make a perpendicular ascent, then would swoop to the right or left, and in one instance dove directly downward, but by each effort appeared to find it impossible to extricate himself from the current on which he was borne. In this struggle between the gallant bird and the upper air tornado in which he had been entangled both passed out over the lake near the head of Division street.


THE DOOM OF THE EAGLE [1888]. I see it announced in a Long Island paper that a gunner near South Hampton shot and killed an eagle measuring 7 ft. 10in. from tip to tip of its wings. What a pity that such a noble a bird should have fallen a victim to the unerring aim of a pot-hunter? What more beautiful sight than a pair of these noble birds soaring aloft and sailing in the sunlight of a clear blue sky? Unless some means of protection be resorted to the American eagle is doomed to extermination, and that very shortly. The State of Connecticut, I believe, has been foremost in passing a law for its protection, whereby a fine of $100 is imposed upon any one wantonly killing an eagle. Would it not be well for some one of our legislators at Albany to introduce a bill to the same effect for the protection of the American eagle, and have it become a law at the session of the Legislature this winter? D. L. GARDNER.

Some Notes on the Bald Eagle in Winter near New York City [January 1907]. In severe winters like the past one the Bald Eagle is a common bird in the Hudson River Valley near New York City. They come down the river upon large ice flows, and when they reach the northern limit of ferry traffic they fly up-stream again. If there is no ice in the river no eagles are likely to be seen. Ebb tide is also necessary to bring them down. Occasionally they perch upon the cliffs of the Palisades on the New Jersey shore of the river. They have also been reported as flying over the city. It is interesting to notice the actions of the Herring Gulls, abundant in the river all winter, in the presence of Eagles. They do not mind young Eagles at all, but if an adult bird comes close they scatter to all points of the compass. Probably only old birds attack and rob them, the young not being courageous enough for that. Immature birds predominated this past winter. Of the six or seven seen by the writer on two trips along the Palisades, only one was an adult. February is the month in which they occur in the largest numbers. George E. Hix.


Bald Eagle [1911]. Eagles were present on the Hudson River in the usual numbers during the past winter (1910-11). As cold weather set in early and plenty of ice came down the river in December, they were first seen during that month. They were present until the end of February or beginning of March. George E. Hix.

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An Eagle Story [June 1912]. "Westport, Conn., June 14. Screaming with all the power that her little lungs could develop, her strange cries reaching her father's ears, was all that saved little Emma, two-year-old daughter of Randolf Kreiwald, from being carried off by a huge American Eagle. The piercing cries reached the father, who, running out, saw the huge bird, with its talons dug deep into the clothing of his child, about to lift its prey from the ground." etc.


So runs a thrilling story that has traveled far through the daily press a story distorted, exaggerated, and most of it born in the brain of the newspaper reporter. Yet there was an Eagle so near that the parent believed, and still believes, that it meant to attack his child, and the bird, an immature Bald Eagle, was shot by the child's father.


The facts appear to be that the little flaxen-haired child was playing in the sand in the corner of a grape arbor and an arborvitae hedge, about forty feet from the back door, when, attracted by the child's screams, the father rushed out to see the Eagle perched upon the grape arbor about eight feet above his child's head. The Eagle flew off, as the frightened parent grabbed his child and carried it into the house to its mother, and, taking his gun, he ran out and toward the Eagle, which was now perched in a tree at some distance from the house. As he advanced he claims that the Eagle swooped toward him, and he shot twice. Noticing that the bird was settling, he followed, and found that it was dead.


There seems no doubt of the truth of this; and the explanation would appear to be that the Eagle, soaring high in air, saw the child's head above the grass over the top of the arbor, and mistook it for other food, and stopped on the arbor on finding his mistake. Four pieces of undigested fish showed the nature of the Eagle's last repast. Wilbur F. Smith, South Norwalk, Conn.

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Notes on the Bald Eagle at Bernardsville, N. J. On 23 June 1912, while traveling in a motor on a wooded road near here, I came upon a flock of Crows. I stopped, as the Crows were cawing and flying about very excitedly. Upon looking more closely, I saw on the top of a dead tree, about twenty yards from me, a beautiful specimen of an adult Bald Eagle. I could then easily account for the excited actions of the Crows. This is the closest that I have ever approached a Bald Eagle.


The following is the number of times I have seen Bald Eagles at Bernardsville in the last few years: 1908, once; 1909, three times; 1910, none personally, once reported; 1911, none; 1912, twice personally, once reported.


On August 26, a friend of mine, Miss Marie Louise Blair, saw a Bald Eagle. This makes the second summer record of which I know, all the others having been seen in the spring or fall. My other record for this season was on May 31.

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GAME ABOUNDS in NEW YORK CITY [January 1916]. The eagles come down the Hudson every Winter on cakes of floating ice. It is their habit to watch the gulls in their search for food and to rob them of their finds. As many as seven have been seen at once in the Hudson River, and they have come as far south as Ninetieth [90th] Street. There are many other species of game bird that pass through the city unseen, but those that have been reported give New York City a reasonable claim to being one of the choice game districts of the State.

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Bald Eagles on the Hudson [27 February 1922]


For over forty years, Andrew Templeton has watched the winter visits of the Bald Eagles to the Hudson River at Beacon and Newburgh, where the ferry between these cities keeps the water free from ice in the coldest days. When the days begin to soften, great fields of ice break off with the changing tides, and these the ferry cuts into small blocks and a eventually a big open space is formed where the Gulls, Mergansers and other Ducks gather and wait the breaking up of the ice. Every year that these conditions have prevailed, during the mild days of winter, a pair of Bald Eagles have come to the Hudson River and remained in the ferry pathway for several days, attracting much attention. It was some surprise to me in passing over on the ferry Friday, February 24 [1922], to find eight Bald Eagles on the ice, six mature birds and two immature.


Crows appeared like chicks beside their hens, but later, when we had a pair of eight-power glasses on the birds, we were unable to discover that they found any food, although Mergansers were diving and splashing not far away. The eight birds were here for one day only but the pair now here have been leaving every evening before dusk for the Highlands south, flying toward Storm King Mountain. The two mature Bald Eagles are yet with us, but the gathering of eight birds on the river seems of enough importance to me to report, for it seems as if the protection of these birds was now bearing fruit. Francis B. Robinson, Newburgh, N. Y.


Bald Eagles in winter (and a nest) Washington State Deborah Allen

31 December 2008 - Albany, Hudson River Mile 145: Our Hudson River breeding bald eagle population expanded significantly again in 2008, adding four new pairs (three on the lower river and one mid-river), a 24% increase over the record number of pairs in 2007. The total number of young fledged was also a record, with 31 new eagles plying the powder-blue skies over the Hudson this year. Eighty percent of the pairs nested successfully, fledging nearly 1.5 young per occupied nest. Only 4 of the 21 occupied nests failed this year: one new pair, two established pairs due to nest damage/collapse, and one more established pair due to unknown causes but perhaps due to the loss of one of the breeding pair. We still have two breeding pairs on the upper Hudson above Albany, both of which were successful, fledging four young. Pete Nye

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31 December 2009 - In the last 13 years, we have gone from none to perhaps as many as 25 bald eagle nests along the tidewater Hudson. As they have become more numerous, they have become more difficult to protect. Many are located on private land, and landowners have granted the NYSDEC access for nest monitoring. The status of this permission can be tenuous, however, when the curious arrive uninvited in landowner's yards. Pete Nye

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27 December 2006 [photo below]. A bald eagle carries a fish in its talons over New York City’s Central Park, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2006. The eagles flight didn’t go unnoticed by Pale Male, the famed red-tailed hawk of Central Park, who was perched on the 22nd floor of the Beresford apartment building as the eagle flew by. "Pale Male usually sits there sort of relaxed, but he sat up straight when he saw the bald eagle," said Lincoln Karim, the man whose photographic chronicle made Pale Male and his mate Lola famous. Karim is an Associated Press Television News technician. (AP Photo/Lincoln Karim)

From: Mark Kolakowski

To: rdcny@earthlink.net

Subject: Bald Eagles Galore on the Hudson

Date: 26 February 2011


Bob - Other birders said that this was like nothing they've ever seen before. This morning, on the Hudson between Indian Point and the Bear Mountain Bridge, were well in excess of 100 bald eagles on the drift ice. From our vantage point at Charles Point Park looking north, Rose and I could count 90 within a minute, using a scope (easily 60+ with binos only). A group that was leaving when we got there had tallied 106.


Earlier today, we counted 7 just south of the Croton Harmon station, 4 on the ice north of it, 16 at George's Island Park and 10 on the ice at Verplanck. After seeing the incredible mob scene at Charles Point, we didn't bother going up to the Bear Mtn. Bridge or to the nearby Croton Reservoir.


The best day we previously had, several years ago, yielded 67 eagles. Today we called it quits at 127. No doubt we could have gone over 150 if so inclined.

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11 February 2017. Wappinger Creek, Hudson River Mile 67.5: The tidewater Wappinger Creek was frozen today and several dead fish were floating just under the near-clear ice. An immature bald eagle was strutting and stomping on the ice, focused on the fish underneath and frustrated by its inability to reach them. John Devitt


[The first week of February 2017 saw a sudden and drastic drop in air temperature and a thorough chilling of Hudson Valley waterways. This resulted in a phenomenon called “winter kill” affecting many gizzard shad, with hundreds of them dying in Verplanck’s Lake Mehaugh. A dozen bald eagles drawn to the lake were frustrated that they could not reach the fish so clearly seen through the thin ice. However, a solution presented itself: Scores of black-backed and ring-billed gulls, with bills better adapted to the job, chipped away at the ice until the fish were exposed. Then the eagles would swoop down and claim the gizzard shad. Once eaten, they’d fly away and wait until the gulls had uncovered more fish. Then the drama would replay itself. Tom Lake.]

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8 April 2018. Alpine (New Jersey) Hudson River Mile 18: In mid-afternoon, I saw something from the State Line Lookout (NJ) that I had never seen before. An immature bald eagle was flying low across the river, from Yonkers, heading toward the Palisades and a peregrine falcon nesting area. A falcon, probably a female, rocketed out of a hidden perch around the cliff top and met the eagle as it was halfway across the river. The peregrine dove through the eagle’s path, and the eagle began doing barrel rolls, showing its talons. The peregrine intercepted the eagle three times before turning up, gaining altitude, and then diving down toward its target. The falcon’s stoop was incredible: she transformed herself into a bullet, decreasing her drag and increasing her speed. In an instant, she struck the eagle, hitting its head. It appeared that the eagle was killed instantly. The eagle went from a wings-flapping glide, to a straight fall toward the river. I heard it splash into the water where it floated, ever so slowly southward, toward the Alpine boat basin. Bill Tee


12 October 2018. Inwood Hill Park [Manhattan]. David Barrett counted 28 Bald Eagles on migration passing by the lookout atop Inwood Hill Park. The count could have been higher because in the windy (northwest 15-25mph) conditions the eagles fly up and down the river in search of fish.


adult Bald Eagle eating a gull on the north side of the Central Park Reservoir in mid-February 2014. Photograph by Thomas Schuchaskie (who runs Urban Kid Adventures a SUPERB after school program for kids). This was the first eagle we are aware of that caught prey in Central Park - and then perched in a tree to eat it!

Hopes Rise That Staten Island’s Young Eagle Is a Native New Yorker [2016]

Joe Trezza

SEPT. 5, 2016


Three years ago [2013], as Lawrence Pugliares searched for bugs and butterflies to photograph within the Mount Loretto Unique Area, a 200-acre grassland along the south shore of Staten Island, something not so tiny soared over his head. Mr. Pugliares scrambled as an adult male bald eagle canvassed what would become its new home.


“I had to change lenses and, of course, I missed him,” said Mr. Pugliares, 52, a stenography instructor who has taken thousands of photos of eagles. “But we met again and again and again.”


Once considered rare, bald eagles have become increasingly common along New York City’s waterways over the last few years. Seven to 10 of the birds are thought to live on Staten Island, including two adult eagles frequently found at several coastal parks in three neighborhoods.


Recently, a younger bird has been seen consistently with the two adults, leading many to believe that Staten Island’s bald eagles have achieved a milestone this summer.


Birders say the juvenile’s behavior suggests it was born to that pair of adult eagles. Thick-billed but not yet white-headed, the young bird has been photographed taking food from the beaks of the older birds, something that is considered a sign of successful breeding.


Mike Shanley, a birder on Staten Island and the president of the Friends of Blue Heron Park, said the feeding suggests “probable nesting,” meaning two adult birds building a nest to try to have offspring. It is “not confirmed breeding,” he added, “though it is a very good indicator.’’


Young Bald Eagle (probably second year) Washington State March 2016 Deborah Allen

Last year, two eagles tried but failed to breed near Mount Loretto. None of the bald eagles are banded or tagged, which makes tracking them a challenge. But the male spotted this year is believed to be the same male from last year and the same one Mr. Pugliares first encountered in 2013.


Officials at the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, which administers the Mount Loretto area, expressed some skepticism that an eagle could have been born on Staten Island, noting that the birds could have wandered across Raritan Bay from nesting sites in New Jersey. Without a confirmed nest, there is no way to be certain where the eagle was born.


But birders say there are plenty of remote places on Staten Island where a nest could be hidden. “There are a lot of thick woods,” Mr. Shanley said. “If they nested in the top of a tall tree in the middle of those, nobody would have found them.”


It is not uncommon for eagles to fail to breed — meaning a nest was built and eggs were laid but did not hatch — several times, said Ed Johnson, the former director of science at the Staten Island Museum. “They need a few tries to get it right,” he said.


There is mounting circumstantial evidence that they did so this year: The adult birds and the juvenile, which is at most a few months old, have been spotted perching on the same branch, communicating and feeding together, implying that the young bird hatched in the area.


What is undeniable is New York’s place among urban areas to which eagles, once threatened with extinction, have returned.


Widespread pesticide use after World War II had decimated their numbers. In 1960, there was only one breeding pair in all of New York State. But after decades of federal protection, the birds were removed from the endangered species list in 2007.


Bald eagles have also become regulars in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens and along the Hudson River in the Bronx and Manhattan.


“The way I grew up,” Mr. Pugliares said, “we knew about the national bird but we never saw it. Now they’re here. I mean, they’re right here.” Since 2009, over 900 eagle sightings on Staten Island have been reported on eBird, a website that tracks bird sightings and population trends. Most have been of the adult male that Mr. Pugliares has seen so often that he gave it a nickname: Vito, after the patriarch in “The Godfather.” The eagle often flies over a church where parts of the movie were filmed, and perches conspicuously on telephone poles throughout his sliver of territory.


Since his arrival, Vito has been the most popular attraction on a Facebook group page devoted to Staten Island wildlife — a “rock-star bird,” as Mr. Pugliares says. The juvenile bird was easily spotted recently at one of Mount Loretto’s ponds. Mr. Pugliares took photos as it spread its wings, exposing its brown belly, to bask in the sun for several minutes. It certainly appeared at home.


“I’ve never seen any eagle act this way,” Mr. Pugliares said.


But the nest where the eagle was born still eludes him, as it does everyone else.

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Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD

Follow our Bird Sightings on Twitter: @DAllenNYC and/or @BirdingBobNYC

The Birds of Long Island [1843]

J.P. Giraud, Jr.


BALD EAGLE or SEA EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


This well-known bird is an inhabitant of both Europe and America; in the United States is met with along the whole extent of our sea coast, as well as the shores of the interior lakes and rivers, and is said to breed in the Fur countries. On LONG ISLAND during winter, it is quite abundant. I have known from sixty to seventy to be shot in one season.


I have never observed the nest on Long Island, although it has been found in the vicinity of New York, in the neighborhood of the Hudson River, at Pompton, N.J. and at Heron Bay, seventy miles below Baltimore by Mr. Bell.

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BIRDS INHABITING THE CENTRAL PARK [1868].


Haliaetus leucocephalus (Linn.); Bald-headed Eagle; fall resident; very rare; one seen in the Deer Park for two months in the fall of 1866. [In 1866 the Commissioners of Central Park created a deer park on the site of the current Metropolitan Museum of Art. It preceded the "Menagerie" that eventually became the Central Park Zoo.]

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BIRDS OF THE NEW YORK CITY REGION [1923]

Ludlow Griscom


BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


The experienced can recognize an Eagle at great distances by the enormous extent of the wings (often over seven feet) which is six or seven times the length of the tail. Country people, however, are likely to call any large bird flying at a great height an Eagle! These proportions are approached only by the Turkey Vulture, whose wings are much narrower, and whose flight and soaring characteristics are quite different.


The Bald Eagle has a most irregular distribution in our area, which will be found in detail below. The bird nests very early; consequently its presence as a transient chiefly in late spring and early fall is hard to explain. Students can count on seeing it along the Palisades any winter just after a cold wave, when half a dozen or more birds can be seen sitting on ice cakes in the River during a short walk.


LONG ISLAND. Locally common in summer in the wilder sections, occasional in winter; rare, however, at the western end of the island. So far as I know the nest has never been found. February 12 to September 30.


ORIENT. Uncommon visitant, occurring at any time of year.

MASTIC. Fairly common summer resident; may breed; occasionally noted in winter, and is perhaps a permanent resident.

LONG BEACH. Very rare, an adult found on a sandbar May 29, 1915 (Hix and L. N. Nichols); an immature, October 29, 1922 (Hix).


NYC AREA. Rare transient on Staten Island; recent records are August 22, 1914 and September 24, 1911 (Cleaves). Regular and often common winter visitant on the Hudson River in the section of the Palisades from December to late March, often seen from the 125th Street Ferry. Formerly a permanent resident near Ossining (Fisher), but its breeding there now requires confirmation, though highly probable (Brandreth).


CENTRAL PARK. Casual; fall of 1866 (Woodruff and Paine); 8 Feb. 1909 (Griscom)

BRONX REGION. Only recorded in winter, such birds undoubtedly wanderers from the Hudson River; February 17, 1912 (Griscom and Hix); February 23, 1920 (L. N. Nichols).


NEW JERSEY. Fairly common winter visitant along the Hudson. Inland a rare or very rare transient, chiefly reported in May, late August and September. There are June records also, but these must not be regarded as indications of breeding. The bird is reported as present all summer on Greenwood Lake. This would indicate a breeding pair, which, however, might be actually nesting twenty or more miles away, as no bird covers a wider range of territory at this season. There is no definite evidence then that the Bald Eagle breeds in northern New Jersey. Transients in June may possibly be wanderers from more southern breeding grounds. No winter record inland.


ENGLEWOOD REGION. Fairly common winter resident on the Hudson, December 3, 1904 (W. H. Wiegmann) to March 16, 1912 (Griscom); very rare transient inland, only two records; May 2, 1915 (J. M. Johnson); May 11, 1921 (W. deW. Miller).

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Birds Around New York City [1941]

Allan D. Cruickshank


BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)


The Bald Eagle is a possibility at any time in any locality, but over the larger part of our region it is known chiefly as an uncommon though regular transient and a rare winter visitant. It is most widely and generally distributed during the peaks of local migration in late April and early September. On the other hand, the only real concentrations occur in winter, but these are confined entirely to the Hudson River north of Dyckman Street (Manhattan). On days when there are large ice flows one may expect to see one to fourteen birds drifting down on the ice. Croton Point seems to be a favorite concentration place, for I have often seen over six individuals on this small peninsula on a single winter afternoon. These birds come down with the freezing of the water farther north and disappear as soon as the ice thaws out. Whereas all Bald Eagles taken locally have proved to be the southern race leucocephalus, it is very likely that many of the winter birds are the northern subspecies alascanus. We now know that young eagles banded in Florida and other southern states have been shot in the northeast in late spring soon after leaving their distant homes, and this is the reason for the late April flights in our area.

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Bald Eagles in Central and Prospect Parks [1949] Geoffrey Carleton

CENTRAL PARK. Four spring records, 5 May 1938 (Irving Cantor) to 31 May 1956 (Charles F. Young); 17 Sept. and 21 Sept. 1950 (Cantor); 6 Dec. 1948 (Helmuth); 15 Jan. 1950 (Helmuth); 8 Feb. 1909 (Griscom).


PROSPECT PARK. Rare transient. 16 Mar. 1940 (Nathan) and 21 Apr. 1945 (Soil) to 28 May 1909 (Vietor); 23 Sept. 1951 (immature; Whelen, Brooklyn Bird Club); 25 Nov. 1943 (adult; Soli, Whelen). ================================

Birds of the New York Area [1964]

John Bull


Bald Eagle. Status: Generally rare, but locally fairly common winter visitant and fall migrant; rare summer visitant. Very rare breeder. Reported every month of the year.


Maxima: Winter – 18, Croton Point on 11 February 1951 (Harry Darrow), “much ice in Hudson River”; one to six birds are usually observed here. This is by far the best place in winter to observe Bald Eagles. They may be seen close up – perched in trees at the tip of the point or on ice cakes in the river; during mild winters few if any are seen. Fall – 17, “Racoon Ridge,” 11 September 1939; 16 in Montclair, 10-21 September 1941; good flight in 1950: 6 Van Cortlandt Park, 17 September, and 5 more there on 24 September.

Washington State March 2016 Deborah Allen