Conserve Wildlife Blog

Second PBS Nature interview celebrates bald eagle recovery in NJ

February 24th, 2018

The WNET-PBS Nature program Peril & Promise’s second live interview with Conserve Wildlife Foundation marked the Great Backyard Bird Count by focusing on the inspiring recovery of the bald eagle. This interview, taking place at DeKorte Park in the Meadowlands, features program host Emily Harris speaking with CWF Executive Director David Wheeler, CWF Trustee Kumar Patel, and Jim Wright, who has written two e-books about bald eagles.
Holding an authentic (empty) can of DDT, Wright noted, “Eagles had some tough times…with things like DDT, a really nasty pesticide that got into the food chain and would get into the fatty tissues of the bald eagles, and they had trouble laying their eggs because their eggshells were so weak. It got to the point in New Jersey where they were down to one nesting pair in the late 1970s, and they were not producing eggs…. But now there are…approximately 170 nesting pairs in New Jersey, including two right here in the Meadowlands.”

Photo by Northside Jim

“I live near the Palisades, and I was told that we hadn’t had bald eagles there for more than 100 years,” said Patel. “Seven years ago, we had the first pair nesting there. We’ve been fortunate to have bald eagles nesting there every year since then, and I’ve been able to see and observe and photograph them…. I particularly love to study animal behavior, and I think each bird has a certain characteristic that makes it very special – and bald eagles are just magnificent.”
The bald eagle’s recovery “really is an all-American success story,” said Wheeler. “In New Jersey just a couple decades ago, if you wanted to see a bald eagle in the wild, you’d have to go in the coldest time of winter up to the northernmost stretch of the Delaware River where it might not be frozen, and then hope for the best – whereas now people can see them in a downtown area along a waterway. I think people can really connect with seeing our national emblem in their day-to-day lives.”
Wright adds, “On a bird walk, any time you see a bald eagle, that is the star of the show without a doubt.”

View the interview here. You can also view the first interview, about the impacts of climate change on birds, here.

Peril & Promise: The Challenge of Climate Change is a public media initiative from WNET in New York reporting on the human stories of climate change.
Richard W. DeKorte Park is a nationally recognized birding hotspot along the Atlantic Flyway with 3.5 miles of walking trails in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline, part of the Meadowlands region where over 285 bird species have been identified. It is managed by the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority.

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