Every January volunteers from around the state go out to count bald eagles. But not too long ago there were no eagles to count.
In the 1950s there were no nesting bald eagles in the state. Their numbers had been devastated across the country by illegal hunting, habitat loss and the effects of DDT, a pesticide that weakens bird’s eggs. But since the federal government banned DDT in 1972, the eagle has slowly returned. By 1992 Connecticut had its first nesting pair in decades. And just over two years ago the bird was officially removed from the federal endangered species list. Donald Hopkins, a member of the state’s Bald Eagle Study Group, says the best place to see them is on the Housatonic or the Connecticut Rivers.
“You can go out in the winter time, on the Connecticut River for instance, and if you’re patient and sit there for a couple of hours in the morning you’re pretty sure to see an eagle go by.”
Hopkins, who is 83, is one of the more than 100 volunteers in Connecticut who takes part in the annual eagle count. In the spring he also volunteers to observe and report on nesting eagles.
“That’s the icing on the cake to see young chicks being successfully raised in Connecticut when you think that not too long ago it was on the endangered species list.”
Last January 80 eagles were counted in Connecticut. The annual count takes place on January 9th.
For WNPR, I'm Nancy Cohen.