BY LINDA VANDERVEER
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…bald eagle? Here at DNRT we have been getting increasing reports of bald eagle sightings around town. Some folks are confident in their observation, others less so, in part because they can’t believe their eyes. Bald eagles? Here in Dartmouth? Is it possible? The answer is a resounding yes! Bald eagle populations are on the rise here in Massachusetts as well as nationally, thanks to the elimination of the use of DDT and the concerted efforts of state agencies and others to reintroduce wild populations.
There are currently more than 80 territorial pairs throughout the Commonwealth, a wonderful and dramatic increase from the early 1980s when there were no nesting pairs in Massachusetts at all. While bald eagle populations are highest in the western part of the state, thanks to less development and prime habitat along the Connecticut River and the Quabbin Reservoir, the birds have been moving east over the last decade. More densely populated areas such as the Southcoast, Boston, and Cape Cod have all seen bald eagles move in. This may in part be due to the success of populations out west, where things are now getting crowded for new young birds seeking out territories.
In Dartmouth we have had a notable uptick in bald eagle sightings this past fall and early winter. Exciting observations have been made by DNRT staff, skilled birders, and non-birders alike. Many of the observations have taken place in the general Slocum’s River and Allen’s Pond area, as well as in neighboring Westport. All of them point to an increasingly healthy bald eagle population on the Southcoast, which is truly good news.
Although sightings here are becoming more commonplace, they are still far from common, so please let the folks at MassWildlife know! If you see a bald eagle carrying sticks to a nest this winter, please report your observation to MassWildlife at firstname.lastname@example.org. This helps them keep track of populations. And we at DNRT love to hear about your sightings too, so please keep sharing with us! Happy birding!