Bald eagles of the Jersey Shore

     A bald eagle pair in a Jersey Shore nest. (Photo: Chris Spiegel/Blur Revision Media Design)

    A bald eagle pair in a Jersey Shore nest. (Photo: Chris Spiegel/Blur Revision Media Design)

    The bald eagle has made a dramatic comeback in New Jersey, and luckily for us, a few photographers have been eagerly documenting the raptor recovery at the Jersey Shore.

    Chris Spiegel, an Ocean Grove based photojournalist and owner of Blur Revision Media Design, has documented the happenings in one shore nest. He has captured images in 2012 and 2013

    But he’s very careful to not disturb wildlife, adamantly refusing to reveal the location of his subjects. 

    “Since these birds are so rare and they are very easily negatively influenced by human activity, the DEP has cordoned off the area around this bald eagle nest. I was told of its location in confidence that I wouldn’t share it with the public,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Please don’t ask me where these were taken. I will not acknowledge questions or guesses about its whereabouts. Please respect this.”

    Another Monmouth County photographer, Alice Brennan of Jersey Shore Photography, has also snapped images of a nest. 

    “They are amazing to watch – from observing the adults remodeling the nest, seeing the eaglets for the first time and watching them building up their wing strength to allow them to become fledglings and leave the nest,” she said. 

    Ospreys, also in the raptor family, have similarly staged a comeback, which Ben Wurst, manager of the New Jersey Osprey Project, documents.

    During the 1980s, there were only a few bald eagle nests, but there are now more than 100 nesting pairs in New Jersey, according to the state Division of Fish & Wildlife. Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey notes that the osprey population has jumped from 50 nests in 1974 — down from a historical high of 500 nests prior to the usage of DDT, a pesticide — to nearly 500 in 2009. 

    Wurst is on the frontlines of the raptor recovery, building platforms for ospreys and bald eagles. 

    While the osprey recovery has been linked to the discontinuance of DDT and conservation efforts by passionate biologists and volunteers, officials have pinned the bald eagle recovery on federal regulations. 

    The state Division of Fish & Wildlife explains: 

    The bald eagle is a shining example of recovery in New Jersey. In 1973, when the Endangered and Nongame Species Conservation Act was passed, there was just one nesting pair, in a remote forest in Cumberland County. Today there are more than 100 nesting pairs of eagles in the state. Most are in the Delaware Bay counties of Cumberland and Salem, but eagles can be found nearly statewide. Additionally, numbers of wintering eagles along the Delaware have increased dramatically. They remain on the endangered list (threatened federally), however, due to their sensitivity to environmental contaminants, habitat loss and human disturbance. The challenge to biologists and citizens now is protecting the lands and waterways used by eagles to maintain and enhance this species’ recovery.

    For more information about raptors in New Jersey, visit here

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.