If you’ve ever read this blog before, you probably know that this post is not about a sports team or a band but rather about Haliaeetus leucocephalus, our magnificent national bird. Did you know that there are four or five sites in Bergen County where bald eagles reliably breed each year? I found out yesterday, and the excitement is almost too much to bear.
According to the New Jersey Bald Eagle Report for 2015, there were 150 active nests throughout the state, and 200 eagles fledged last year. A pair nests in the Hackensack River County Park right outside the Riverside Square Mall. Another has nested since 2010 alongside Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield Park. The other sites are the Oradell Reservoir and Woodcliff Lake.
It’s always good news when a top predator returns to an ecosystem: keystone species like eagles and wolves keep the entire ecosystem in balance, and their presence shows that there’s an ample supply of food. When a species like the bald eagle can reliably breed, it indicates that habitat is being restored to health. Thirty years ago, it was rare to see a hawk, even in a relatively undisturbed area such as Harriman State Park. Today they live in our backyards year round. A lot of the improvement has to do with the banning of DDT and the Clean Water Act. Imagine what will happen if the Passaic River really is cleaned up in the near future.