NYC Birders Excited About Mystery Bald Eagle
Young bird may be city's first native-born eagle in more than 100 years
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2016 7:33 AM CDT
Could NYC have its first native-born bald eagle in over 100 years?   (Scott Mason/The Winchester Star via AP, File)

(Newser) – Between seven to 10 bald eagles call Staten Island their home, but there may be one who can stake a special residency claim, per NBC New York. Although it's only circumstantial evidence so far, birders have recently spotted a young eagle with two adult birds and chowing down on food from their beaks—behavior the New York City Audubon says suggests it may have been the Big Apple's first eagle birth in over a century, per the New York Times. The president of a local park preservation group notes the sight of the young bird feeding leads him to think there's "probable nesting" going on, with an Audubon conservation biologist calling the possibility "exciting." But not everyone's so sure this eagle can pick up its resident sticker just yet: No nest has been found, and the city's Department of Environmental Conservation speculates the eagles could have ended up on SI from nesting sites in nearby Jersey.

The Times notes that bald eagles, whose numbers were pared down nearly to the point of extinction by post-WWII pesticides, are making a comeback, not only in Manhattan, but in other cities as well. An apparently active nest populated by a pair of eagles named Vito (after Vito Corleone in The Godfather) and Linda was spotted in April 2015 on Staten Island's south shore, per DNAinfo, but the DEC says their breeding efforts failed. Enthusiasts say it's possible the nest of this fowl family may be hidden somewhere deep in the island's woods, which would explain why it hasn't yet been found. "The way I grew up, we knew about the national bird, but we never saw it," a local who's taken thousands of photos of the island's eagles tells the Times. "Now they're here. I mean, they're right here." (Meanwhile, eagles have been dying in Delaware and Maryland.)