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Winter eagles and air shows

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This is the time of year when ice is plentiful on the lakes and rivers, a central factor in explaining why we see so many bald eagles over-wintering in our region. During these cold months, many eagles migrate from northern New England and Canada to spend the winter here. When temperatures in Canada get so cold that waterways freeze completely shut, the bald eagles are deprived of their favorite fare— fish. And so starting around January, eagles flock to the Upper Delaware River region to congregate around open water and forage.

At times, some of the well-known spots, like those along the Lackawaxen and Mongaup rivers, may seem very quiet, but at other times there are so many eagles that they are hard to keep track of. Very cold temperatures, which result in more ice cover, tend to restrict feeding eagles to spots where open water still exists, including swift water and river confluences.

Besides winter migrant eagles, there are also a significant number that live here year round. The young hatched from area nests may or may not stay in the area over winter, or indeed other times of the year. Having so many eagles in the area usually leads to some interesting behavior, including some impromptu air shows, which is the subject of the imagery in this week’s column.

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