Early nesters are at it already

Photo by Chris Bosak Great blue heron Danbury, CT, March 2019.

While we wait patiently for migrating warblers and other colorful songbirds to arrive in New England, some birds have already started the nesting process. Owls, of course, started a while ago and other birds of prey also get an early jump.

I’ve been watching great blue herons build and repair nests at a small rookery near the Danbury Fair mall. It’s funny to see these large, wild birds fly over a busy shopping mall with sticks in their bills. It is good to see, however, that they are adapting to human encroachment.

The other day I saw two mute swans and one Canada goose on nests at a small pond.

It’s an exciting time of year in the birdwatching world with nesting starting and the spring migration beginning to heat up.

Here’s an old shot I took of an osprey building its nest.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey adjusts a stick in its nest at Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn., April 29, 2015.
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Bald eagle sightings on the rise

Photo by Chris Bosak
A bald eagle perches in a tree overhanging Lake Lillinonah in Brookfield, CT, March 2019.

It’s not quite on par with the great osprey rebound, but the recovery of the bald eagle has been fascinating and fun to watch.

Ospreys, once nearly extirpated from New England, have greatly increased their population over the last few decades. They are now common sightings along New England coastlines. Inland bodies of water are also seeing more ospreys but the increase is not as dramatic as along the coast.

Bald eagles are also becoming a more common sighting. I took a canoe ride on an inland lake in Connecticut yesterday and saw two bald eagles — one immature and one adult. (It takes four or five years for an eagle to get its trademark white head and tail.) Later in the day I drove past Danbury Fair, the state’s second-largest shopping mall, and saw an immature bald eagle perched in a snag in a nearby marsh.

I can’t remember the last time I saw three bald eagles in one day. Now that the weather is getting warmer (kind of) and days longer, eagles will be heading north soon. Many eagles, however, will remain in New England to return to nest sites or start new ones. In recent memory, there were no bald eagle nests where I am in southern Connecticut. Now there are several.

Here’s what All About Birds, a website of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, says about the bald eagle population: “The Bald Eagle’s recovery is a spectacular conservation success story, and numbers have increased between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates the global breeding population at 250,000, with 88 percent spending some part of the year in the U.S., 31 percent in Canada, and 8 percent in Mexico. The species rates a 9 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not on the 2016 State of North America’s Birds’ Watch List, but are a U.S.-Canada Stewardship Species. Once abundant in North America, the species became rare in the mid-to-late 1900s—the victim of trapping, shooting, and poisoning as well as pesticide-caused reproductive failures. In 1978 the bird was listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Since 1980, gentler treatment by humans along with the banning of DDT (the bird’s main pesticide threat) have led to a dramatic resurgence. By the late 1990s, breeding populations of Bald Eagles could be found throughout most of North America. In June 2007, the bird’s recovery prompted its removal from the Endangered Species list.”

It’s always good to hear those types of stories.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A young bald eagle perches on a dead tree near Danbury Fair mall in Danbury, CT, March 2019.

Bald Eagle visits pond

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eaglea fies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

I live on Merganser Lake (real name Lake Waubeeka). A short walk away, down a trail that starts at my backyard, is Little Merganser Lake (really the Beaver Pond.) I like Little Merganser Lake because it is completely undeveloped and isolated. A wide variety of wildlife, mostly birds, can be seen at the lake and pond, but the pond is more productive because of its relative remoteness.

I’ve seen some pretty good ducks and herons down there, but today I saw a Bald Eagle there for the first time. I heard it calling and then it soared overhead. It was impossible to miss. Bald Eagles are becoming more and more popular and nest on nearby lakes such as Candlewood and Lillinonah. So to see one here is not overly surprising, but as I said, it was first time seeing one, so of course I have to post about it.

The photos, admittedly, are not the best because of the gray, drizzly conditions, but you get the picture …

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Eagles unsuccessful in nesting attempt in Norwalk

The eagles that were sitting on the nest on Chimon Island off the coast of Norwalk, Conn., earlier this spring have abandoned the nest. It’s sad news, but it’s not uncommon for birds of prey to fail in their first attempt at a nesting sight. Hopefully they will try again nest year with better results.

Here’s my story in The Hour.

Bird Book Look: “Inside a Bald Eagle’s Nest”

Cover of "Inside A Bald Eagle's Nest"

Cover of “Inside A Bald Eagle’s Nest”

Here’s the first of many (hopefully) posts about bird books, or Bird Book Look, as I will call the posts. They will not be full reviews of the book, but rather quick posts with some information about the book and a few thoughts about the text and images. These bird book posts will be used mainly to let everyone know that the books are out there and give a general sense about it.

The first book to be featured here is “Inside A Bald Eagle’s Nest,” by Teena Ruark Gorrow and Craig A. Koppie, published by Schiffer Publishing. The nonfiction book is rich with pictures and accompanying text about a Bald Eagle pair raising young in a neighborhood outside Washington DC. It includes Continue reading

Did the Norwalk eagles have babies yet?

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

The answer is a definite “probably.”

I wrote my latest For the Birds column in The Hour newspaper (Norwalk, Conn.) about the topic.

Here’s the start of the column:

Now for the answer to the burning question in the Norwalk birding world: Most likely.

The question, of course, is: Did the Bald Eagles have babies yet?

Again, the answer is “most likely.” Without climbing the tree or somehow hovering above the tree on Chimon Island where the nest is located, it’s hard to tell with all certainty. Since no one is going to climb the tree or otherwise hover above it, it’s basically a waiting game.

The eagles are still out there and one is sitting on the nest at all times. You could see that from Calf Pasture Beach with a spotting scope or good pair of binoculars. In talking with Norwalk’s Larry Flynn, the eagles have been sitting on the nest long enough that eggs would have been laid and hatched by now. Flynn is monitoring the birds for the state DEEP.

The vantage point from Calf Pasture and, indeed, even closer from Long Island Sound, is such that only the adult eagle’s head and maybe part of its body is visible. There is no way to tell what, if anything, it is sitting on.

If there are actually eaglets in the nest, it will be several weeks until they are large enough to be seen in the nest. So we play the waiting the game. Hopefully our patience will pay off and eventually we’ll all get to see fledgings flying about Long

Click here for the rest.

Yes, there are eagles out there

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eagle preches in a tree on Chimon Island off the coast of Norwalk, Conn., March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle preches in a tree on Chimon Island off the coast of Norwalk, Conn., March 2015.

I tagged along with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service officials and staff this week to confirm an active Bald Eagles’ nest on Chimon Island off the coast of Norwalk, Conn. The nest is visible from the coast with binoculars or a spotting scope, so we were all fairly certain of

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Rick Potvin, manager of the Stewart B. McKinney NWR, holds a sign before it was posted on Chimon Island on Wednesday. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials were on the island to mark off areas to protect a bald eagle nest.

what we’d see anyway, but the confirmation has officially been made. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife staff posted more signage on the island and placed additional barriers to protect the eagles, which are safeguarded by state and federal laws.

Chimon Island is part of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

The laws, of course, do not protect the eagles against annoyed

Ospreys, so a battle may be pending. The eagles have taken over a nest that has been used by an Osprey pair for the last four years. The osprey haven’t returned from South America yet, so it could get interested when they do.

The photos aren’t great, I know, but they are indeed the eagles off the coast of Norwalk.

Here are links to some stories I wrote for The Hour newspaper regarding the eagles.

Bald Eagles may be nesting on Norwalk Island

For the Birds: Have the eagles landed?

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirms eagle nest on Chimon Island