By Peter Sloggatt
A pair of nesting bald eagles in Centerport have been attracting crowds as they go about their day-to-day business.
The eagle pair – a male and a female that followers have named “The Commodore” and “Mrs. Vanderbilt” – have been on local birdwatchers’ radars since last fall, said Bruce Adams, a Northport resident and former harbormaster who has kept close tabs on the birds.
“I’ve been watching them since September when they were first building their nest,” Adams said.
Adams had been keeping track of nesting ospreys last summer but the birds suddenly stopped coming around. “I felt badly when they disappeared, then out of the blue I saw this eagle. I started watching them as they were building their nest. Now we feel there are eggs or eaglets in there.” Adams said.
The “we” Adams refers to is a large and growing community of respectful followers who gather daily to watch and photograph the birds. (Long Islander News is withholding the exact location of the nest, but the birds can be seen flying over Northport and Centerport Harbors, along the cliff in Northport, and near Centerport Mill Pond.)
According to Adams, the female has taken to staying in the nest and the male brings her fish and eel snatched from local waters. “He’ll bring her a fish or an eel. She doesn’t leave except to take a quick flight,” maybe to stretch her wings, he added.
The birds have a 7.5-foot wingspan so the nest itself is large, Adams said. He approximates the nest is 12 feet across and several feet deep. The eagles have been observed defending the nest against hawks and ospreys.
While it’s not the first times eagles have been spotted in the area, “I like to think that it’s the good environmental practices of the past eight years that allowed the salt marshes to thrive providing more small fish and bait fish for the birds to feed on,” Adams said.
Jackie Martin, a Centerport resident and sailing enthusiast, has been among those who gather in hopes of sighting the birds.
“At any given time you’ll arrive at the parking lot and people are quietly milling about, looking up. Everybody is quiet. People just stand there and wait,” Martin said. “They’re magnificent birds.”
As word of the eagles’ residency has spread among birdwatchers, naturalists and boating communities, the nesting spot has attracted larger crowds.
While the birds have many live followers, they have a Facebook following as well. A Facebook page, Bald Eagles of Centerport, NY, currently has more than 2,000 members.