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Wildlife

December 2023 Eagle Cam Update

Duke Farms Eagle Cam viewers were left wondering about the upcoming nesting season after the bald eagle nest they had been following collapsed last summer, casting uncertainty as to whether […]

Written by:

Nora DiChiara

Tags:

Eagle Cam , Habitat Restoration , Wildlife

Dec 20, 2023

Duke Farms Eagle Cam viewers were left wondering about the upcoming nesting season after the bald eagle nest they had been following collapsed last summer, casting uncertainty as to whether the eagles would rebuild or find a new nest site away from the camera. (Thankfully, the chicks had already fledged at that point in the season and were not disturbed by the development.) Nest cam viewers and Duke Farms staff alike were left waiting to see if the eagles would return to build a nest in a location that was viewable by the camera.

We are happy to report that a pair of bald eagles have been hard at work building a nest in the same sycamore tree that was home to the previous nest. This means that the Duke Farms Eagle Cam will be back for the 2024 season, and it also gives us a chance to celebrate the recovery of our national bird in the state of New Jersey.

A bald eagle with brown and white plumage soars over a brown-black backdrop.

The pesticide DDT decimated bald eagles and other birds of prey populations all across the country in the mid-20th century. In New Jersey, the number of nesting pairs of bald eagles declined to only one by 1970. The United States banned DDT in 1972, and that ban, combined with restoration and management efforts, resulted in population increases to 23 pairs by 2000 and 220 pairs by 2020.

The ban on DDT was transformative news for bald eagles and their advocates, but suitable habitat was needed to ensure that eagle populations had a chance to rebound. Duke Farms’ work to actively manage and restore ecosystems to protect and promote biodiversity helps provide plentiful options for nest sites and creates the environment necessary for higher population density.

Although bald eagle pairs tend to return to the same nest year after year, nest collapses are not uncommon occurrences. The 2,740 acres of meadows, grasslands and forests at Duke Farms mean that when a nest does sustain damage, nesting eagle pairs have an abundance of options to rebuild and renest in the area. For example, when a nest was destroyed in 2012 by Hurricane Sandy, the pair built a new nest in a tree 100 yards away from the original site. 

Duke Farms has been home to many successful nests since 2004, the first time a nesting bald eagle pair was spotted on the property. And thanks to our staff, volunteers and partners at NJDEP Fish and Wildlife, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and NJ Eagle Project, we are researching, tracking and learning about the eagles and what they need to thrive. The chicks are banded each year when they are about six weeks old, which allows scientists to track their progress and learn more about their behavior. For example, while many of the eagles come back and nest in New Jersey, our birds have also been spotted in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware. We also utilize transmitters to monitor their migration patterns and have tracked one of our birds as far as Quebec. 

Please sign up for the Duke Farms email list to follow along on this journey with us this year. We will send out updates from the nest, let you know when to tune in for life events such as hatching and fledging and connect you with ways to support wildlife conservation and habitat restoration in New Jersey.


Written by:

Nora DiChiara

Tags: Eagle Cam , Habitat Restoration , Wildlife

December 20, 2023