CENTERPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Some majestic bald eagles are making quite the comeback on Long Island.
The iconic symbol of America was once near extinction, but now they’re returning to the New York area.
Mill Pond in Centerport is home to hundreds of birds, but it’s the two resident bald eagles that have people in this community watching, talking, and taking pictures.
“You see them soaring. Other times you see them coming in with the fish in their talons,” Judy Smith said.
At one time there were dozens of bald eagle nesting sites in New York, including in this part of Suffolk County. In the 1900’s an abundance of pesticides and heavy metals in the waterways polluted their food source and impaired their ability to reproduce
The eagles flew away. The state started a bald eagle restoration project in the late 70’s that continues to pay off today.
“You think about eagles in Alaska or somewhere in the Midwest, you really wouldn’t expect to find those birds anywhere else,” Jim Lombardo said.
Mill Pond and a nearby property where their nest is have become popular destinations for people who want to see America’s bird up close with its distinctive brown body, white head, and yellow beak. Kym Lawrence brought her 4 year old grandson.
“They’re so big and their wings are so they’re just majestic they are,” the Smithtown resident said.
The bald eagles can be seen at Mill Pond nearly every day. Residents say they feel a sense of ownership over the birds. Daily bird watchers like Rainy Sepulveda have named the raptors.
“Commodore and Mrs. Vanderbilt after the Vanderbilt property,” Sepulveda explained to CBS2’s Elise Finch.
The pair had babies who have since left the nest, but residents hope they’ll be preparing for another generation of bald eagles soon.