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Unexpected Sighting of An Eagle Along Rt. 1

While I was driving south on Rt 1 on a sunny afternoon last week, after leaving the Scarboro landfill, a large bird swooped down ahead of my car and grabbed something from the road in its talons. I assumed it was a vulture nabbing road kill.  But as it took off, I caught a glimpse of white from its tail feathers. Could it be a bald eagle?

Luckily for me, as I pulled over onto the highway shoulder, the bird flew into a tree near my car. He sat perched on a branch, close enough for me to clearly identify it as a bald eagle.

I’ve never seen a bald eagle so close. He tore and munched at his lunch and calmly looked around as I took several pictures.

Bald eagles aren’t as rare in Harford County as they used to be. At one point these magnificent birds of prey were on the verge of extinction. One factor was the use of the pesticide DDT. Ingesting the pesticide left their eggs brittle or sterile; few eaglets were being born. Since DDT has been banned, the eagle population is rebounding.

Maryland now has one of the largest eagle populations in the entire country. One reason is because the  Aberdeen Proving Ground, with its miles of undisturbed shoreline, is an ideal home for  eagles.

In a news article by CBS last year, a spokesperson for APG said that in 1977, only one pair of eagles lived on the property. Last year, 154 eagles were counted. Harford County’s website reports over 200 eagles, making Aberdeen Proving Grounds one of the largest breeding grounds in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed for great blue herons and bald eagles.

But not all of us can get on the base to go bird-watching. In Harford County, there’s another great spot for bald eagle-sighting that’s more accessible to the civilian population: Conowingo Dam. A vast variety of birds can be seen at Conowingo. The dam is considered one of the best places east of the Mississippi River to view Bald Eagles because the birds are nearly always present in good numbers and viewing conditions are excellent.

As far as my sighting, I was very close to Wilson’s Farm Market on Rt. 1. I stopped in and excitedly told the staff person. She was used to seeing and hearing about the eagles though. Apparently, there are also nests along Forge Hill Road, which leads into the Palmer State Park.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Always a magnificent sight!

    April 12, 2012
  2. I love the bald eagles. We have many of them on the Eastern Shore – in fact, there’s a nest just up the road from my house. It’s good to see they’re making a comeback. I’d love to go to Conowingo and see them there. I hear that’s a spectacular sight.

    April 12, 2012
    • Mindie, Plan a trip to Cononwingo next winter! I understand the eagle population is greatest December through March. You could combine it with lunch in downtown Havre de Grace.

      April 14, 2012
  3. Great commentary on our bald eagles Neita! Is it not awesome to see one up close? Whether close or far, I get excited every time as if it were the first time. Have you been to Blackwater lately to see the nest at the end of the Wildlife Drive? I haven’t as yet, but been dying to get over there for some of their action.

    April 14, 2012
    • Donna, it was awesome; I was far more excited about it than I expected. I wanted to flag down other drivers and point it out to them!
      I have not been to Blackwater since my first trip. It requires more of an extended weekend approach.

      April 15, 2012
  4. This is a somewhat late reply, but I would like to add that there is a gorgeous trail that goes from the Conowingo Dam into Susquehanna State Park, with plenty of cut-trails that go to the water. Winter is the ideal time to go, too– both for the bird watching, and the fact that the mosquitoes and biting flies take over the beaches in the summer.

    April 17, 2012

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