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Wildlife on the Connecticut River – Eagles

Posted on February 1, 2018

The eagles are back in town!

The Connecticut River area is home to myriad wildlife:  deer, coyotes, harbor seals, wild turkeys, various eagle and hawk species, loons, and other fowl.

One of the most majestic of these species can be seen soaring through the skies along the Connecticut River Valley during the winter months.  The bald eagle, which has been the national emblem of the United States since June 20, 1782, makes its way back to Connecticut each year.  This impressive bird represents the American spirit, especially with the incredible recovery it has made in recent years.  

The bald eagle is listed as a threatened species in Connecticut, but for many years it was an endangered species.  Its populations were decimated due to the use of the pesticide DDT, loss of natural habitat, and illegal hunting.  Lucky for us, the bald eagle population is on the rise again after the United States banned DDT and efforts were made to protect not only its habitats but its nests as well.

Bald eagles return to Connecticut during the winter because the land and waters in Canada are frozen.  According to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), we have about 100 bald eagles that winter here in Connecticut.  They return to the same spot each year to nest.

Even with their stately white crowns, imposing wingspan, and graceful flight, there is one well-known historical figure who disagreed with America’s choice of the bald eagle as our country’s emblem.  Ben Franklin wrote, “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America… He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”  He even described the bald eagle as having “bad moral character.”

Despite whatever moral character they may or may not have, bald eagles are a romantic sort, not conforming to specific gender roles.  They mate for life.  They build their nests together.  They even share parenting duties taking turns to roost and feed their young.

So grab your binoculars and your camera!  You can join an excursion that will bring you into the heart of the Connecticut River Valley where you’ll have the potential to witness the majesty of the bald eagle and other wildlife in person.  The Eagle Flyer heads out on February 17th, 18th, 19th, 24th, and 25th and Master Wildlife Conservationists from DEEP will be on board to share their knowledge and guide the tour.  Tickets are on sale now at http://essexsteamtrain.com/seasonal-excursions/eagle-flyer/.  You never know; you might even catch a glimpse of Mr. Franklin’s preferred national emblem.

-Elizabeth Scanlon

 

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