Sunday, December 7, 2014

Eagle Team Visits Boston College

 There are a lot of great things about working at World Bird Sanctuary.  However, without a doubt, one of my favorite things about working there is when I get to handle our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.

Recently I had the honor to travel to Boston College with one of our Bald Eagles.  Their team name is the Eagles, so it made a lot of sense to be there with one.  I went during a home football game.  The eagle and I attended a pre-game activity.
Beauford, one of our free flying Bald Eagles (photo: Erika Fenske)

For three wonderful hours I got to talk to amazing fans about our national symbol.  I am always captivated when listening to people tell stories of when they have seen Bald Eagles in the wild, whether it is sitting in a tree, flying overhead, or even fishing in a lake or river.  There is absolutely nothing more emotional or moving than when someone talks to me about how when they were younger they remember that our national symbol was so rare.   
Beauford enjoying some time in the sun between performances (photo: Mike Cerutti)

The Bald Eagle became endangered due to overuse of pesticides, but now it can be a common sight in so many places in the United States.  You see, when DDT and other pesticides were introduced to kill mosquitoes it made its way into the rest of the environment as well, and eventually made its way into the fish.  When Bald Eagles ate those fish, the pesticides gave them a calcium deficiency.  That deficiency caused their eggshells to be so thin and brittle that they would break as the mom and dad eagles tried to incubate their eggs.  This meant that there were not many new baby Bald Eagles to replace the older ones when they passed away.  Eventually this caused Bald Eagle numbers to plummet, and in 1963 there were only 487 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in our lower 48 states.

Thankfully DDT and other pesticides have been banned, and because of breed and release programs (including those done at World Bird Sanctuary), Bald Eagles have made a monumental comeback.  According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are now about 20,000 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states.
Lena, a young Bald Eagle in training (photo: Leah Tyndall)

Young and old alike should all be thankful for the recovery of this great nation's national symbol.  If you would like to see a bald eagle up close or learn more about them, please come see them at World Bird Sanctuary, free to the public and open every day of the year except Thanksgiving and Christmas (barring closures for inclement weather).

Submitted by Mike Cerutti, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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