Bald Eagles Make Big Comeback in Boston
And that's great news for the birds and the city
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2016 2:40 PM CST
Bald eagle sightings in the Boston area are skyrocketing. And that's great news for the bird and the city.   (Scott Mason/The Winchester Star via AP)

(Newser) – A symbol of America is once again flying high above one of the nation's most historic cities. “I had never seen one in my life before,” Tom Palmer tells the Boston Globe. “It’s exciting. These are American icons.” Late last month, the 60-year-old Massachusetts resident spotted his first bald eagle. And he's not alone. Reports of bald eagle sightings are pouring in from around the Boston area. "They are too big to escape notice," Palmer says. The AP reports there were 51 confirmed breeding pairs of bald eagles in the state last year. That's the most since the birds were reintroduced to Massachusetts in 1982. And it's part of a trend seen nationwide. There were 10,000 or so pairs of bald eagles in the continental US when they were taken off the endangered list in 2007. That's 20 times as many as in 1963.

One ornithologist says the resurgence is partly due to bald eagles getting more used to humans and humans getting more used to not shooting bald eagles. Another says it's a sign that the waters around Boston are getting healthier, providing good fishing for breeding eagles. "Once rare and threatened with extinction, the national symbol can now be seen from the comfort of your car," the Washington Post states. But that can also be its own problem. Bald eagles are increasingly being hit by cars while eating roadkill. Last year, a 38-year-old bald eagle—the country's oldest—suffered that fate. The problem is compounded by eagles getting lead poisoning by eating the remains of deer shot by hunters. "It's like they're flying drunk," one veterinary director tells the Post. (Some eagles may also be making themselves sick by eating euthanized animals.)