June 20, 2015
American Eagle Day
- as seen by -Kevin Hils
Growing up in the 60’s (I am dating myself), I remember one of the covers of Ranger Rick nature magazine was of a stately bald eagle. The article on eagles inside shared details of how poorly bald eagles were doing and how desperate their situation was at that time.
Human use of the insect pesticide, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), was really messing up the ecosystem in the middle of the last century. Eagles and other raptors were taking it on the chin due to the misuse of DDT and other pesticides. Bald eagle eggs were too thin to progress, and bird-of-prey numbers dropped. These poisons were the main reason they became endangered.
Today, bald eagles have made a comeback and are almost common. I have spotted them around New York on City Island and in the Bronx, just a few minutes away from the Bronx Zoo (as the eagle flies).
American ornithologist Roger Tory Peterson said it best. People would always ask Peterson for his thoughts on bird problems. He would recall the days of the millineries and the making of hats in the early 1900s. There was a huge loss of birds as they were hunted for their feathers. It was a scary time for herons and egrets. Now, these birds are commonly seen. Peterson always liked how birds could rise above their environment. People have changed how they relate to nature, for the better of many birds, like the bald eagle.