WNPR

From Rivers To Highways: Bald Eagle Populations, And Sightings, Soar

Oct 11, 2018

One of the nation’s most iconic creatures continues its comeback. A state report indicates bald eagles are returning to Connecticut in record numbers.

It was a tough spring for Connecticut’s bald eagles. May thunderstorms destroyed three nests and caused another to fail.

But despite all that, Jenny Dickson, a wildlife biologist at the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, said 2018 emerged as a banner year for bald eagles.

“We had 68 chicks produced, which is great. That’s the highest number we’ve had since bald eagles re-established themselves as a nesting species in Connecticut.”

DEEP has been doing bald eagle counts since the late 1970s. Back then, eagles and other birds of prey like osprey, were still recovering from the effects of recently banned contaminants like DDT.

Breeding eagles returned to Connecticut in 1992.

Today, Dickson said eagles have recovered so well that biologists are seeing nests with multiple chicks.

“We have a fairly consistent number of active territories every year,” Dickson said. “Right now, it’s somewhere between 50 and 55 for the last three years.”

These are Midwinter Eagle Survey Results. The survey was done earlier this year. The one additional eagle reflected under "total eagles seen" was a young golden eagle.
Credit CT DEEP

“When I was first starting in birding in the 20th century, it was a big deal to see a bald eagle,” said Patrick Comins, executive director for the Connecticut Audubon Society.

“Today, I can be driving down the road -- I just was getting off of the Merritt, getting on 95 yesterday -- and an adult bald eagle flew over. I saw one in New Haven the other day on I-91. You see them in [the] Hartford area,” Comins said. “Almost any place in the state, anytime of the year, you can see a bald eagle flying over.”

Comins and DEEP’s Dickson said fall and winter are great times to look for bald eagles in the state.

“Connecticut is the winter destination for a lot of bald eagles,” Dickson said. “When we get a lot of cold weather and ice up north, they actually shift down to Connecticut because a lot of our coastline and our rivers stay open throughout the winter, so it allows them to continue to fish.”

Dickson said DEEP will do its next bald eagle count in January 2019.