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New Jersey Bald Eagles Continue to Make a Comeback

the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Ridgewood NJ, according to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program , Two hundred and forty-seven eagle nest sites were monitored during the nesting season, of which 222 were documented to be active (with eggs) and 25 were territorial or housekeeping pairs.

Twenty-seven new eagle pairs were found this season, twelve in the south, three in central and twelve in the north. One hundred-seventy-seven nests (82%) of the 215 known-outcome nests produced 296 young, for a productivity rate of 1.37 young per active/known-outcome nest. Thirty-seven nests (17%) failed to produce young. The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with roughly half of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties and the bayside of Cape May County.

Bald eagles nesting face many threats, with disturbance and habitat loss the greatest threats in our state. In addition, contaminants in the food web may negatively affect the eagles nesting in some areas of NJ.

The statewide population remained stable at 247 territorial pairs in 2021, a difference of one nest from last year. NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife documented 222 pairs that were known active (meaning they laid eggs), an increase of 4 nests from 2021 (Figure 1); 25 pairs maintained nest territories but did not lay eggs. Eighty-two percent of nests, 177, were known to be successful in producing 296 young. The productivity rate for 215 known-outcome nests was 1.37 young per active nest, which is above the range of 0.9 to 1.1 young per nest for population maintenance.

Seventeen percent of nests (37) nests failed to fledge young. Nest monitors documented nest failures and brood loss that occurred: 316 chicks were reported as nestlings but only 296 were documented at fledging. The number of nestlings lost could be higher as monitors often cannot see the number of chicks in the first weeks after hatching.

The federal government removed the bald eagle from its list of Endangered Species in August, 2007, in recognition of the national resurgence in the eagle population in the lower 48 states. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service oversees a 20-year monitoring period (through 2027) to watch for and investigate any problems that could compromise the eagle recovery.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act remains in effect to protect nest and roost sites for bald eagles nationwide. The bald eagle’s official New Jersey status currently remains state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season, and state regulatory protection was unchanged by the federal action. The Division of Fish and Wildlife continues to monitor the population to provide data used in status assessments.

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