The Eagles Have Landed

February 15, 2011

Two injured bald eagles find a new home at the WCS Bronx Zoo. These young birds from Wyoming add to the growing ranks of this once-endangered species now making a comeback in New York.

Bald eagles are one of our nation’s greatest comeback stories. Hunting and pesticides put these emblematic birds on the Endangered Species list in 1978. Within 30 years, owing to an active restoration effort and a ban on the insecticide DDT, bald eagle numbers began rising. In fact, they soared right off the list.

The graceful bald eagle is an important symbol of power and strength,” said Jim Breheny, WCS senior vice president of Living Institutions and Bronx Zoo director. “Throughout its history, WCS has played a pivotal role in the conservation of eagles by helping to bring about a change in public attitudes toward the once heavily hunted birds."

The new bald eagles at the Bronx Zoo are a comeback story within a comeback story. The two juvenile birds suffered injuries in Wyoming rendering them unable to fly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service took them in and sent them on a cross-country trip. The five-year-old male and almost four-year-old female recovered at the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in New Jersey before heading to the Bronx.

Although healthy, both eagles, unfortunately, still cannot fly. Without the power to dive for fish and other prey, the birds would not survive on their own in the wild.

These big, white-capped raptors are truly our national bird, ranging from the East Coast to the West Coast and from Florida to Alaska. In New York, a small but growing segment of the population winters on the lower Hudson River. Sightings of wild bald eagles have also occurred in Manhattan’s Central Park, the Meadowlands of northern New Jersey, and even at the Bronx Zoo.
The two newest additions to the New York population spend their days at the outdoor Birds of Prey exhibit, in squawking range of the zoo’s other bald eagle, Napoleon.

WCS has been on the forefront of research into the impact of pesticides, such as DDT, on bald eagles. By working to confront ongoing environmental threats that include habitat fragmentation, resource extraction, and climate change, WCS scientists are helping to ensure a future for our national emblem.
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