Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bald Eagles Al, Alice Wow Crowds in Park

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bald Eagles Al, Alice Wow Crowds in Park

Article excerpt

Any self-respecting pop culture star knows it's time to take the stage when the crowd is at its peak.

So it was at 1:17 p.m. Sunday that Al the bald eagle flew from his favorite cottonwood tree in Ridgefield Park across Overpeck Creek -- wowing a crowd of about 60 chilly bird-lovers who had gathered on the other side of the creek banks in Ridgefield for the Bergen County Audubon Society's Save the Eagles Day.

An "immature" -- a bald eagle that hasn't reached adulthood of about 5 years and attained the signature white crown -- also flew over the crowd at the same time.

And after Al's return to the tree near the nest he shares with Alice, the birders could see that his mate-for-life had elected to join him in the tree.

The eagles rested serenely for the next hour, perched in the tree that is the site of their still-under-assembly nest, allowing any visitors a clear shot through two telescopes. Other immatures also made brief drive-bys over the creek during that time.

"I've gone on birding trips before, but I've never seen an eagle in the wild," said Bernadette White of Bergenfield, who like the other birders braved temperatures in the low 20s. "I got so excited when I saw it."

"America!" exclaimed a young female bird enthusiast, referring to the bird's status as the national emblem.

Martha Priday of Ridgefield, who has been visiting the Ridgefield watching site for five years, also was thrilled.

"It's a party for them, and there they are," said Priday, adding that she doesn't mind "sharing" Al and Alice as long as their fame helps preserve their habitat.

Don Torino, president of the county Audubon Society, said the pair have been making nests each winter for about five or six years, with nine eaglets as a result. The eagles landed in the midst of a development controversy in 2014, when Skymark announced plans for a huge mixed-use development in Ridgefield Park. …

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