Can you spot the bald eagle in the above photo? Flickr user Ted Kerwin took the picture in the Roundout Reservoir in 2003.
I Love New York wrote a blog post last week to remind likely Manhattan day-trippers that March is prime bald-eagle-watching season, especially in the Mongaup Valley in Sullivan County. According to the story, the number of bald eagles that migrate through New York nowadays is right back up to what it was a century ago:
During the 1800s and early 1900s, New York was home to more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and was the chosen wintering grounds of several hundred. By 1960, the state had only one known active bald eagle nest remaining, and the number of wintering visitors had been reduced to less than a few dozen. A national ban on DDT in 1972, prohibitions against taking or killing bald eagles in the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973, and the initiation of New York’s Endangered Species Program in 1976 began a dramatic turnaround for our national symbol. Today an estimated 150-200 bald eagles migrate through the state each year.
Our correspondent Aaron Bennett has tips for spotting bald eagles in the Catskills, which he calls the "Florida Keys for eagles," on the Winter in the Catskills blog:
Over the last decade I have seen a ton of bald eagles – and the vast majority right here in the Western Catskills. I will say that my “at one time” record for eagle sightings was 20 – which occurred in Sullivan County at the Mongaup Falls Reservoir. While this area is certainly a hotbed for eagle sightings, you not need to venture that far.
Between Fleischmanns and Margaretville along the Bush Kill (in the sycamore trees by the Delaware & Ulster RR – see image) is a great place to see them. Even by the Freshtown supermarket in Margaretville, and certainly driving around the Pepacton Reservoir (NYS Route 30 west towards Downsville) will serve you just fine. One winter I drove from Downsville to East Branch (along the East Branch Delaware River) and spotted no less than five mature bald eagles perched above the river.
Or course driving along NYS Route 10 between Walton and Deposit will surely work too. A couple pairs even make this portion of the Catskills their permanent home. If you are truly dedicated to eagle-spotting, I am confident that you’ll see them – especially this time of year.