WESTFIELD, NJ — The emblem bird of the United States made an appearance in Westfield Thursday.

Justin Drazin and his family spotted the bald eagle just over the pond at Mindowaskin Park during the afternoon.

“My wife and I were out for some fresh air with our little girl. We stopped at the Mindowaskin playground and then took a walk over to the pond to see the ducks,” Drazin told TAPinto Westfield. “All of a sudden, the ducks all started quacking furiously, and we looked up and saw the bald eagle circling the pond, until it landed and perched on the tree.”

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The family, who moved to Westfield in July, took photos of the bird for 15 to 20 minutes, Drazin said, and later posted them to social media.

The quacking ducks may have had reason to alert each other about the predator perched above. The National Audubon Society’s field guide says that while the bird is “majestic in its appearance,” its feeding habits may not be so regal.

“It is not always so majestic in habits: it often feeds on carrion, including dead fish washed up on shore, and it steals food from Ospreys and other smaller birds,” the guide says. “At other times, however, it is a powerful predator.”

The Audubon Society lists the bald eagle as a “priority bird,” and says that although its numbers declined in the first two-thirds of the 20th century, since the 1970s the number of bald eagles has steadily increased.

New Jersey’s Division of Fish and Wildlife says on its website that in 1973, there existed just one pair of nesting bald eagles within the state, but a 2020 state report on bald eagles shows 248 pairs, up from 211 recorded in 2019.

Still, observers of the bald eagle continue a close watch of the feathered predator.

“They remain on the state endangered species list, however, due to their sensitivity to environmental contaminants, habitat loss and human disturbance,” the Division of Fish and Wildlife says. “The challenge to biologists and citizens now is protecting the lands and waterways used by eagles to maintain and enhance this species’ recovery.”

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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