NEPTUNE, NJ — Imagine Jeff Mason’s surprise when he woke up yesterday morning and discovered a bald eagle perched in a pine tree right outside his bedroom window.

“This was a sight to wake up to this morning!” wrote the Shark River Hills resident in a social media post that included a striking photo of the bird, nestled in the green branches against the brilliant blue of a cloudless sky.

The March 18 post received an overwhelming response from area residents — a much-needed dose of positivity for residents whose daily lives have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Mason lives along the western banks of the Shark River, just across from the former Camp Evans where there is a popular nesting location for bald eagles, such as this one.

“We see him occasionally as he fishes on the river. It is rare that he cooperates by posing as he did this morning,” said Mason, who was just waking up when he spotted the large majestic bird. “I had to scramble to get my camera with the long lens on it. I was able to click off only four shots before he flew off.”

After facing extinction in New Jersey nearly 50 years ago, the bald eagle is considered a shining example of recovery, according to the N.J. Division of Fish and Wildlife. In 2019, there were 211 pairs of bald eagles monitored throughout the state by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey. Of those, 190 nests in which eggs were laid produced 249 eaglets.

As for Mason’s sighting of the national bird, many on social media called it "a symbol of hope and strength" during these unsettling times. As one person commented, “Wow! Beautiful reminder of who we are.”

Or another: “It’s little things like this that will get us through this challenging time.”

Editor’s Note: When photos tell a story, “In the Snap-Light” will shine the spotlight on projects, events or activities in Belmar, Lake Como and the surrounding area. If you have photos you’d like to be considered, email

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