Quinnipiac River Watershed Association
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Eagles on Hanover Pond


March 2010 – Eagles at Hanover Pond
Life along the Q River… An Update from the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association

For awhile now a pair of mature, bald eagles, along with an occasional juvenile, has been spending time at Hanover Pond in South Meriden.  On any given day they can be seen in the large trees on the island in the center of the pond, or else in the many big trees along the edge of the water.  Most of the time they are just looking over the area, but every now and then you can see them in action, swooping down into the pond in search of a meal.  Other times you can see them gliding on the thermal currents, floating over Hanover Pond with such ease.

The bald eagle is our national symbol and has been struggling for survival for the past fifty years.  Loss of their habitat and the use of the pesticide, DDT resulted in severely depleted the eagles’ numbers.  The American Bald eagle was placed on the ‘Endangered’ species list and was moved to ‘Threatened’ in July of 1995 and through conservation and repopulation efforts was taken off the list in June of 2007.

The female, who is about 13 pounds with a wingspan of up to seven feet, is usually 25% bigger than the male, who, by contrast, is about 9 pounds with a five and a half foot wingspan.  They have the trademark bald head, which is actually white feathers, with yellow talons and hooked beak and that takes about four years to achieve maturity, with a lifespan of twenty years.

According to QRWA President, Ginny Chirsky, “Because of the tremendous efforts to restore the Quinnipiac River throughout the state, Hanover Pond has now become a feeding ground for the eagles, who feed primarily on fish, small animals and water fowl.  These big, beautiful birds would not hang around if there was not a substantial food source, which is a result of cleaner water.”

Both eagles may not be there for long.  Bald eagles mate for life and in CT courtship begins in January.  With any luck they will be nesting one to three eggs, usually two, that will a hatch sometime in April to May.

Their nest, which is called an aerie, is quite large and estimated at five feet wide by 2 feet deep.  The nest needs a large and strong tree to sustain the weight of the nest and eagles.  Large branches are used to make the nest and it is lined with twigs, grass, and moss.  One bird sits on the eggs all the time to keep them warm while the other scouts for food.

Both parents will take turn feed the baby eagles, which are called eaglets, a diet of mostly fish, which is eaten by the parent and regurgitated into the mouths of their young.  When the babies are about three months old they will begin to fly and search for their own food.  They will stay in the nest until the end of the summer and then leave to find their own feeding area.

According to Mary Mushinsky, “In 2007, we celebrated the first record of bald eagles nesting on the Quinnipiac River in North Haven.  They raised two young.  The following year, the eagles abandoned the nest upon the start of construction for the North Haven Commons shopping mall.”

Mushinsky continues, “QRWA volunteers have participated in eagle counts in prior years, and our paddle program interns, along with local residents, have enjoyed the presence of 2 juvenile eagles for the last 2 summers at Hanover Pond.”

“Bald eagles in the Quinnipiac River watershed are a beautiful sight to see and give us hope for the future,” adds Peter Picone, CT DEP Wildlife Specialist and QRWA board member.

As stewards of the environment we ask you to observe these birds from a distance so as not to disturb them.  This is especially true for the nesting areas, as the eagles just want to protect and care for their young.  If we respect them, their feeding and nesting areas, these eagles will hopefully consider Hanover Pond their home for a long, long time.



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