Conserve Wildlife Blog

It Takes a Village: Neighborhood Unites to Help Bogota Eagles Start a Family

July 26th, 2020

by Ethan Gilardi, Assistant Biologist

Bald Eagle in Bogata nest watches over newborn chicks.

The return of Bald Eagles witin the United States has been one of the greatest wildlife conservation success stories of the past few decades. Once a rarity in New Jersey and the rest of the U.S., these majestic raptors have undergone an amazing recovery to once again become a staple in the skies over our rivers and streams. But our work is never finished, as great success leads to new problems and new questions to ponder.

Earlier this year in Bogota New Jersey, at a two story home located along the Hackensack River and the congested traffic of River Road, a pair of bald eagles bucked conventions and decided that this was the place to raise a family. It isn’t out of the ordinary to see an eagle fly over that area on the prowl for a meal, but nesting in such a busy, human dominated area was a big surprise.

Mike Kelly of was there from the beginning to document the trials and tribulations of a young eagle couple raising a family and the neighborhood who banded together to protect them through the vulnerable period of raising and fledging chicks in an urbanized habitat.

Larissa Smith, CWF biologist and coordinator of the New Jersey Bald Eagle Project, provided context on the nesting behavior of NJ’s bald eagles for the article. You can learn more about Larissa’s and CWF’s work to protect our Bald Eagles here.

You can also read an excerpt from the article by Mike Smith below and continue reading the full text on

In the 1970s, New Jersey was home to a single eagle’s nest — in a remote section of Cumberland County. Today, (Kathleen) Clark knows of more than 200 nests across the state, including one in a Paterson cemetery, another near the New Jersey Turnpike and a power plant in Ridgefield Park and yet another in Linden only 1,000 feet from the rumbling trucks on Route 1.

But Clark marveled at the location of the Bogota nest. The pine tree that the eagles called home was less than 30 feet from the steady stream of traffic on River Road.

“That one really surprised me,” Clark said.   

Larissa Smith, a biologist with the Trenton-based Conserve Wildlife Foundation, agreed. She also noticed that bald eagles no longer seem to fear some of New Jersey’s most densely populated areas. Still, the notion of building a nest so close to traffic was unusual.

“These birds chose to nest where there are people and cars,” Smith said of the Bogota pair. “We’re getting more and more nests like that in places where there are more people around.”

In Bogota, a single eagle’s egg hatched around March 1, Torino said. As weeks wore on, neighbors would occasionally see a fuzzy head of an eaglet pop above the nest to survey its surroundings.

Then came the time to fly. 

Continue reading on

Learn more about CWF’s Bald Eagle Project here.

Special thanks to the American Eagle Foundation, Wakefern Food Corp./ShopRite Stores, and P&G for their generous support for our Bald Eagle Project.

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