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American Bald Eagle Making Comeback, Bird Expert Says

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An American bald eagle is seen on the Cedar Grove Reservoir earlier this month. Bird experts say the bird is making a comeback in northern New Jersey. Credits: Harry Kumburis
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An American bald eagle is photographed in flight high above the Cedar Grove Reservoir earlier this month. Credits: Harry Kumburis
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CEDAR GROVE/LITTLE FALLS, NJ - An American bald eagle was spotted at the Cedar Grove Reservoir this past month.

Adopted as the national bird symbol of the United States of America in 1782, the American bald eagle, also known as Haliaeetus Leucocephalus, was chosen for its majestic beauty, great strength, long life, and because it's native to North America. 

Local councilman Harry Kumburis snapped the photos of the bird on Nov. 1, that was perched, and then flew above the Cedar Grove Reservoir near Ridge Road near Briarwood.

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"I am an advocate of preserving the land around the Cedar Grove Reservoir," said Kumburis. "The value of this land is in protecting our environment and the bald eagle endorses how vital it is to enforce this protection. As some are aware, the Newark Watershed property is not protected and could face potential development. Clearly, this bald eagle also reaffirms protecting not only this land but the surrounding lands as well in Cedar Grove and in Little Falls."

Kelly Wenzel, project director for urban education and outreach for New Jersey Audubon, said the American bald eagle's numbers are increasing for several reasons in the state.

"The two main things are that first, the chemical DDT was stopped being used to kill mosquitoes," Wenzel explained. "That was the first step in their recovery."

According to Wenzel, DDT was affecting the eggs to a rubbery consistency so that when the bird's parents would nest they would typically crush the egg. Preservation is another important factor.

"Another big reason is that habitat protection and preservation is vital," she said. "We do a lot of work with birds, but really our work is focused on habit conservation and stewardship. We look at the resources that we have to make sure that they are as healthy as can be to support wildlife."

Wenzel added that the New Jersey Audubon is a non-profit organization whose mission is to connect people with nature and to "steward nature of today for the people of tomorrow."

She also added that American bald eagles are on the rise in the entire state, not only in northern New Jersey, and that there are over 150 nesting pairs in the state alone.

"That's up from literally one nest in the 80s," Wenzel noted.

In the wild, a bald eagle can live 30 to 35 years, and up to 50 years in captivity. A full-grown bald eagle has a wingspan up to seven feet. They can fly up to 30 miles an hour and dive at 100 miles an hour. Eagles feed primarily on fish, supplemented by small mammals, waterfowl, and carrion.

Former Little Falls Mayor Darlene Conti spoke of the recent sighting of the bird and the need for preservation.

"What a magnificent, majestic bird, which deserves every resource in protecting not only it, but the green space (reservoir) that it resides in," Conti said.

There also have been sightings along the Passaic River in Woodland Park, in Garret Mountain Reservation and in several locations in Wayne over the last few years.

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