Let the Eagle Soar
Bald Eagles are becoming more and more common in the Valley—
if you know where to look.
Story Brian P.J. Cronin
Photo: © Deborah Tracy-Kral
It’s been 10 years since the federal government removed the bald eagle from the endangered species list, one of the most remarkable comebacks in the history of the program. When the Endangered Species Act was passed at the end of 1973, there were only a few hundred of the birds left in the continental United States. Decades of reliance on the insecticide DDT had wreaked havoc in the animal kingdom. For airborne predators such as eagles and ospreys, the chemical caused the birds to lay eggs with unusually thin shells—so thin that the eggs were crushed whenever the birds sat on them, wiping out future generations. But thanks to the wave of new regulations passed at the birth of the national environmental movement in the early 1970s, the bald eagle population slowly rebounded. By 1997, bald eagles were being born on the shores of the Hudson for the first time in 100 years.
Today, bald eagles are an increasingly common sight alongside the shores of the Hudson River from Croton up to Kingston, although some of the reasons why are a little ironic considering the eagle’s status as a symbol for not just America, but for the success of environmental regulations.