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Wild for Volunteers Guest Post: Monitoring Bald Eagles During a Pandemic

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

by Barbara McKee

Barb fully prepared with her mask, in case of running into people in the remote area she is monitoring (left) and physically distancing on the banks of the Delaware (right).

In these unusual days, under threat of a potentially lethal pandemic and state mandated “social distancing”, I am so thankful that some of my “best friends” are bald eagle pairs and their nestlings! I observe and report on 6 nests in central and northwest NJ.

I am fortunate in that my viewing spots are all on land and roads which are not off limits. Yet most of my viewing locations are remote enough that I rarely have to confront people!

The nests in northwest Jersey are in especially remote locations. It is rare that I see even a couple cars on the roads en route to these nests, and even more unusual is seeing another person. Viewing two of these nests requires me to carry my gear a half mile while bushwhacking through rhododendron thickets.

But then I am on the river, it is calm and peaceful, and all I hear are the sounds of nature waking up in the early morning, feeling the sun rise on my face, and seeing and hearing the hungry eaglets begging their parents for breakfast! This is the perfect stress reliever needed in these troubled times!

Occasionally I have help with the two most remote nests. While these are 60-80 miles from my home, our friend (and fellow eagle project volunteer) lives near the area. When he joins me, we walk in to the viewing site separately, and set up our equipment at least 20-30 feet apart. This is social distancing as it should be!

Note: For the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and the communities where we work, CWF is only performing essential wildlife monitoring and conservation duties. While in the field, staff and volunteers are practicing social distancing and following all state and CDC guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Thank you Barb for being a dedicated volunteer and for sharing the video clips below of some of your favorite moments from previous years’ monitoring:

“Mom and one of the nestlings are in the nest and Dad flies in with a huge wad of grass/hay to line the nest bole….keeping it clean, dry and comfy for his kids!” 

“In 2018, a 15 week old fledgling was still hanging around the nest (for two months it stayed!). Here he is perching in a tree, taking a moment for a nice stretch.”

An eagle nest tree reused and an eagle viewing site refurbished.

Friday, March 13th, 2020
2020 nest in original Sycamore tree @ Jim McClain

The Stow Creek Viewing platform was built and installed in 1990 along the Stow Creek in Cumberland County. In 1990 there were only four eagle nests in New Jersey. The Stow Creek pair built their nest in a large sycamore tree in an active farm field. The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program built the viewing platform across the creek, and it was featured in the first New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide. This beautiful site gave the public a safe spot to view nesting eagles without disturbing them.

In 2005, the eagle pair moved to a new location about 1 mile away along the Canton Drain, inside an active blue heron rookery and have nested there ever since. The sycamore tree remained empty until this season when a new pair of eagles built a nest in the tree.



Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

The breeding season started off well enough for the peregrine family that star on our Falcon Cam in Jersey City this year. Four eggs were laid, three sisters hatched, were banded and were growing up high atop the skyscraper at 101 Hudson Street. Thousands of viewers enjoyed seeing them flapping and jumping, strengthening their flight muscles for their first flight to fledge from the nest.

Three Jersey City sisters in mid-June.

Photo From The Field

Thursday, July 11th, 2019
July 9, 2019 @Randy Lubischer

Eagle Project volunteer Randy Lubischer captured this amusing photo of a recent eagle fledge from Monmouth County, being harassed by an Eastern kingbird. In the photo below it looks like the much smaller bird is hitching a ride.

July 9, 2019@Randy Lubischer It’s seal season in New Jersey

Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

By Michael Sol Warren | NJ Advance Media for

Photo credit: Ed Murray, NJ Advance Media for

Freezing water and colder winds keep most New Jerseyans away from the Shore during the winter months. After all, who wants to spend a day on the beach bundled up and shivering?

But winter on the Shore is a downright balmy vacation for some annual visitors from the Northern Latitudes — it’s seal season again in the Garden State.