Eagles in April

On two recent occasions, I wrote a Life in the Fingers Lakes magazine weblog about a pair of bald eagles that had recently built a new nest in my neck-of-the-woods. Back in March—after two damaging windstorms and an impending snowstorm – I wrote that I would keep an eye on the nest from time to time and report on what I observed. I was concerned at the time that the female might have been incubating and—despite all of that turbulent weather – I was hoping that she would be able to succeed in producing new offspring. It turns out that she was and she did.

Look closely at the photo above and you will see two fuzzy eaglets peeking at me from the center of the nest. Also note that the parent has its eye on me as well—even though I was using a telephoto lens from more than 100 yards away. Both eagle parents take turns incubating and tending young so I’m not certain which sex the parent in this photo may be.

Fifty years ago, a single pair of nesting bald eagles remained in all of New York State. It nested at the south end of Hemlock Lake in southern Livingston County. Today, there are nine known bald eagle nesting sites in Livingston County alone and more than fifty in the Finger Lakes Region. Statewide, the number exceeds 300.

In 1965, that remnant pair of eagles was discovered by Thomas J. Rauber, then a 42-year-old employee of Rochester Telephone Corporation and a lifelong Dansville resident. He spent a number of years observing the Hemlock Lake eagles and researching bald eagle behavior. He also helped the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation establish the first-in-the-nation bald eagle restoration program, which served as a model for a number of other states and Canadian provinces as well.

Tom Rauber will be 93 soon and what fascinates me the most is that he still scans the skies for eagles. What’s even more fascinating is the fact that the bald eagles’ nest in this discussion is located less than a mile from his house. And guess how I found it. Tom Rauber told me where it was. What a fitting tribute to the man who helped to bring the bald eagle back from the brink of extinction.

To read more about the bald eagle restoration story, click on this link: http://www.lifeinthefingerlakes.com/brink-extinction/.


Story and photo by John Adamski