By Peter Sloggatt
Being an eagle just got a little bit safer in Centerport, thanks to PSE&G and a little intervention from Suffolk Legislator William R. “Doc” Spencer.
Spencer (D-Centerport) stood with Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci, PSEG Long Island’s Dan Wickstrom, and local bald eagle enthusiast Bruce Adams at a recent press conference to announce a measure to protect a bald eagle family that calls Centerport’s Mill Pond home. Responding to concerns raised by the community, PSEG Long Island has made electrical wires in the vicinity of the eagle family’s nest “avian safe,” wrapping them in insulation to prevent electrocution should one land in the wrong spot.
The family of eagles has achieved celebrity status in the area and regularly attracts gaggles of photographers and birdwatchers to the shores of Mill Pond. In addition to its in-person fan club, the eagles are the subject of a Facebook page, Bald Eagles of Centerport, where both amateurs and professionals post photos of the family. They have chronicled the eagles going about their business, from nest-building to bringing home the catch of the day, which might be fish, eels, squirrels or rabbits. The Facebook group, now with more than 8,000 members, named the parent eagles The Commodore and Mrs. Vanderbilt, and kept close tabs as they built their nest, protected their eggs and later, two hatchlings. The group observed and recorded the parents’ bringing home fish and game to keep them fed. The group had a front row seat for every milestone in the young eaglets’ lives, including their progress toward first flight.
It was their first flights that raised concerns over electrical wires. The utility wires often served as a landing spot for eaglets testing their wings and many were concerned of the risk of accidental electrocution.
Bruce Adams has been watching the eagle family since the parent birds landed on Centerport. He was among a number who contacted Spencer’s office and PSEG to secure a little extra protection.
The utility was eager to help.
“PSEG Long Island prides itself on being a good steward of the environment,” Patrick Hession, electric division manager for PSEG Long Island, said in a news release issued by Spencer’s office. “We were excited to hear that these majestic birds were raising their young here on Long Island, and we are proud to help ensure the next generation of our national bird thrives by installing protective equipment.”
Spencer had praise for the utility and others in the eagles’ orbit. “I was happy to play a role in the community effort to protect the eaglets that thousands of residents have come to treasure. I thank PSEG Long Island for their timely response to our requests, and thank the respectful followers of the birds,” he said. “I also want to thank the Chalet Inn, the local business who has hosted the many birdwatchers who have been observers since the eagles began building their nest late last year.”
Fast response from PSEG had the protective insulation in place before Independence Day, prompting an observation by Huntington Supervisor Chad Lupinacci. “The Town is grateful to PSEG for the work they have done to protect the bald eagles – our new local celebrities – in the trees and waters off of Centerport.”