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-   -   Bald Eagles in Western New York (http://www.adkforum.com/showthread.php?t=28096)

hikingandwildex 06-13-2021 08:29 AM

Bald Eagles in Western New York
 
I think it's safe to say that bald eagles have made a successful comeback in Western New York. Just 5-10 years ago, spotting one in nature was such a rare event that it was a bucket list item for me, similar to seeing the northern lights or volcanic lava in person. Now it's rarer for me to not see at least one on my weekend outings to any large body of water. Just this year alone, I have seen and photographed them at Iroquois National Wildlife Reserve, Allegany State Park, Zoar Valley, Kanakadea Park, Lake Ontario, and other places. They are all over the region and more prevalent than ever.

Yesterday, I spent a couple hours observing a pair of eagles on the Lake Ontario shore. One eagle spent most of its time in a tree overlooking the lake and would occasionally fly above it looking for its next meal. A second eagle accompanied it near the end of my stay. The pair was circling around the water for quite some time. They put on an impressive show for which I had front-row seats - with no one else around because the beach was completely empty the entire time I was there.

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-m5veGq8J7...sEagleTree.JPG

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Bi0Qr6wYN...sEagleZoom.JPG

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-A8Hc1aowL...FlyingLake.JPG

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-PwOJ61p6H...gleLanding.JPG

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-i7fF8fwbP...tarioEagle.JPG

https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Mmj7vANhN...BaldEagles.JPG

adkjack 06-13-2021 10:25 AM

Thankfully, yes it seems that there has been a resurgence of these magnificent creatures in many parts of upstate. Here in Syracuse we now have literally dozens around what used to be the most polluted lake in the country, Onondaga Lake. There has been a massive cleanup effort over the last decade and fish and wildlife have made returns. Mercury levels have abated somewhat which has helped by not poisoning the Eagles allowing them to nest. Still there is strict limits on human consumption of fish caught.
I have seen them in the areas north of Syracuse as well, off Lake Ontario and well inland.
Heck, I saw one in an area I didnít expect last week when I was on Hurricane mountain in the ADK.

hikingandwildex 06-13-2021 12:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by adkjack (Post 286077)
Thankfully, yes it seems that there has been a resurgence of these magnificent creatures in many parts of upstate. Here in Syracuse we now have literally dozens around what used to be the most polluted lake in the country, Onondaga Lake. There has been a massive cleanup effort over the last decade and fish and wildlife have made returns. Mercury levels have abated somewhat which has helped by not poisoning the Eagles allowing them to nest. Still there is strict limits on human consumption of fish caught.
I have seen them in the areas north of Syracuse as well, off Lake Ontario and well inland.
Heck, I saw one in an area I didn’t expect last week when I was on Hurricane mountain in the ADK.

That's a noticeable change here in WNY as well: The water being cleaner and clearer than it was generations ago. While de-industrialization of the Rust Belt was a massive economic blow to the region, it allowed for previously contaminated areas to be restored.

Out your way, I saw a few eagles flying at Montezuma N.W.R. while traveling west on the Thruway a few years ago. I haven't been there in a while and should go back sometime. Last time I was there, I came across a massive osprey nest on top of a power line. Initially thought that was an eagle until I zoomed in with my camera.

montcalm 06-13-2021 12:32 PM

They seem so common now it's almost boring.

I remember being a kid and hearing about this rare bird that was a symbol of our great nation, then when I grew up a little I figured out what actually happened.


I really don't tire of seeing them though. I've seen them around almost every body of water I've been to in the Adirondacks except Lake George, but I'd bet they are there. There are residents in most of the Finger Lakes now.

Unfortunately, water quality isn't really better. It's actually worse in some of those lakes. Canandaigua has started algal blooms in recent years that were never present in the past. While this seems less bad that Mercuric poisoning, it's really not. It can degrade the watershed just as much. I'd have to guess that development and lawn fertilizers coupled with increased erosion and sedimentation are to blame. Much of these lakes are really fragile due to the weak nature of the rock and the steep slopes. Wetter springs could make the issue worse, as it seems the slopes are washing out easier in recent years.

hikingandwildex 06-13-2021 01:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montcalm (Post 286083)
They seem so common now it's almost boring.

I've been thinking the same thing recently. Same with blue herons and red-tailed hawks which are far more common today vs. when I was growing up.

The only birds that I get tired of are Canadian Geese. They are everywhere and have single-handedly ruined some of my outings with all the unpleasant "honking" they make!

What made yesterday's outing on Lake Ontario unique, for me anyway, is that one of the eagles was in the area for so long that I got to observe it on-and-off for nearly two hours. I was hoping to see it or its companion scoop up a fish and get it on camera.

With regards to water quality, some areas in WNY have been cleaned up significantly: Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Buffalo River are far less contaminated now thanks to restoration efforts like the federal Great Lakes Restorative Initiative and binational Niagara River Declaration of Intent. The Buffalo River, for example, was once listed as one of the five worst rivers in the state and is now on track to become delisted as a environmental concern area: https://buffalonews.com/news/local/a...1e5ca265d.html

montcalm 06-13-2021 01:25 PM

I've nearly went off the road many times (probably shouldn't admit this) because of red tailed hawks! They are so bright and easy to recognize that they distract me, and of course they hunt almost every road corridor around here.

I'm not saying some things haven't improved - but at the same time, we still keep finding other ways to degrade... which honestly aren't all that unknown. It just seems we can't help ourselves (or our economy) from developing lake fronts and drainages.

montcalm 06-13-2021 01:29 PM

Also I think you are right about the Herons. I saw one residing in a small duck pond at a housing development, so they must be running out of real estate.

St.Regis 06-13-2021 09:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montcalm (Post 286087)
Also I think you are right about the Herons. I saw one residing in a small duck pond at a housing development, so they must be running out of real estate.

Or they simply discovered a pond full of frogs that are easy picking

hikingandwildex 06-13-2021 09:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by montcalm (Post 286087)
Also I think you are right about the Herons. I saw one residing in a small duck pond at a housing development, so they must be running out of real estate.

That's certainly a possibility. Heron overcrowding is becoming an issue in some places :D

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/pw...=w1335-h719-no


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