Did you know that in the 1970s it was believed that only two bald eagles remained in the entirety of New York?

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As a very little girl in the 1980s, I used to love to lie in my backyard in Washington state and watch the bald eagles soar high above me, with zero comprehension of how lucky I was to see such a magnificent sight because in other parts of the county, seeing a bald eagle was a rarity.

My family moved to New York when I was eight years old and I most definitely missed seeing my bald eagle friends. I remember my family explaining to me that the birds had become nearly extinct.

For much of my life, I fully expected that the national bird of the United States would become extinct, but I was wrong.

Kea Mowat via Unsplash
Kea Mowat via Unsplash

So many people have been sharing photos on social media of bald eagle spottings in New York and Northeast Pennsylvania and it's exciting to see that the birds that once were on the brink of vanishing forever have found their way back.

Today, there are more than 170 pairs of eagles nesting in New York. Nationwide, it's believed that there are now about 316,700 bald eagles.

While it's exciting to see a bald eagle, the bird is protected and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation reminds people that "Harassing, disturbing or injuring a bald eagle is a federal offense and carries a penalty of up to $20,000 and/or one year in jail."

For quite some time, New Yorkers were asked to report bald eagle sightings however, according to the DEC, not all sightings need to be reported. There are a few exceptions though. If you see adult eagles between April 15 and June 15, four or more bald eagles in the same location after 3 p.m., or eagles with colored wig tags or leg bands, you should contact the DEC at 518-402-8883.

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