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Bald Eagles

March 14, 2012

A story out of my home town of Chicago yesterday reports that the Chicago Police Department is setting aside

(c) Paul Friel, 2005, courtesy of Wiki Commons

plans to build an outdoor firing range on the city’s Southeast side near the Calumet River, all because a bald eagle nest has been found on the river’s edge. Apparently this is the first bald eagle nest seen in the city since 1880, so is reason to celebrate for sure! These fish-eating raptors have made quite the comeback, with their populations rebounding so well since the 1960’s that they are an Endangered Species Act success story (they were delisted in 2007, although they are still protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act). It’s really inspiring to see such a large bird choosing to live in an urban area!

The DC area has its own bald eagle sagas, of course. There are the stories about George, Angelina, and the dearly-departed Martha, who hang out near the Wilson Bridge which shuffles Beltway traffic across the Potomac. And Mason Neck National Wildlife Refuge — the first National Wildlife Refuge established specifically for bald eagles — is only 18 miles south of the District.

The latest local Bald Eagle story is a sad one, though. A few weeks ago, an injured bald eagle was found near the tracks of the Metro’s Blue Line, near the Van Dorn Street station. Although it was rescued by Metro, animal control, and the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia (an amazing rehab center that I was lucky enough to be able to bring an undergraduate class to a few years ago), its wing was too injured, and so it was sadly euthanized.

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