Eaglets Take Flight

Story and photo by John Adamski

It’s been just over a month since I last checked on the bald eagles’ nest in my neck of the woods and even longer since I reported on them. This year the parents produced three eaglets. It is the second year that they used this nest. Last year they had two babies. On my last visit, which was on June 25, the youngsters looked like they were almost ready to fledge as they took turns hopping from the nest to a couple of nearby limbs and back while vigorously flapping their wings. Even though I had planned to continue monitoring their progress, a series of Finger Lakes Museum meetings took over and my plan was temporarily delayed. That is, until the landowner where the nest is located showed me a cell phone photo of one of the eaglets perched on the roof of a neighboring house one day last week.

I returned to the nest on Friday, July 27, only to find it empty. But as I scanned the surrounding trees with my binocular, I could hear the unmistakable squawk of an eagle, which told me that at least one was nearby. As it turned out, all three eaglets were perched in a grove of trees within 100 yards of their nest. And one by one, each of them rewarded me with a photo op as they left their respective perches and returned to their nest tree—squealing back and forth to one another along the way.

Once again, I felt an emotional rush come over me. Because just a short half-century ago, only one single pair of bald eagles nested in all of New York State at the south end of Hemlock Lake. And if it hadn’t been for the dedicated perseverance of amateur naturalist Tom Rauber, Sr., and Department of Environmental Conservation endangered species specialist Mike Allen—who worked together for years to bring the bald eagle back from the brink of extinction—I would never have been able to witness what I saw.

Readers of this blog are no doubt familiar with the bald eagle restoration story so I won’t repeat it here again. (See https://www.lifeinthefingerlakes.com/brink-extinction/) But today there are well over 300 bald eagle territories located throughout the state and the number is growing. In recent years, I developed a close personal friendship with both of these men and also witnessed their passing within two months of each other—Mike last October and Tom just after Christmas.

And speaking of the Finger Lakes Museum, which is a developing project located in Branchport at the north end of the west branch of Keuka Lake, I am involved in designing a series of cultural and natural history exhibits that will tell the evolving Finger Lakes story through a geological timeline that begins with a melting glacier and transcends through millennia into life in the Finger Lakes today (no pun intended). That timeline will follow a cascading trout stream as it meanders through centuries of ecological and human evolution and interaction. One of those exhibits is entitled “From the Brink of Extinction” and will document the bald eagle recovery story and eventually include an aviary that will feature the live bald eagle that was in Mike Allen’s care up until he passed. You can learn more and even support the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium project at www.FingerLakesMuseum.org.

John has been a published writer/photographer for 40 years and is a 4-time award-winning member of New York State Outdoor Writers Association. Two of those awards were for these "Life in the Finger Lakes" articles: Plight of the White Deer and From the Brink of Extinction.

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