By Peter Osborne
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint.
Courtesy of John Herron
From November to March, large numbers of bald eagles winter over in the Port Jervis area. It is estimated that 250 eagles, coming mainly from Quebec, Canada, stay here and use the open rivers as a primary food source. From the Delaware Water Gap to Hancock, New York, some 120 miles, eagles have made this area their home, the largest gathering of wintering eagles east of the Mississippi River.
A large number of eagles have been "hacked" or moved into the area and are now flourishing, so much so that they have been taken off the endangered species list. It is not uncommon to see eagles soaring over Port Jervis and to see as many as 15 or 20 when one travels north of the city on Route 97 for ten or fifteen mile. See the map below for the best viewing locations.
They are magnificent to watch, both perched in trees along the river and soaring on the updrafts. Please follow the eagle etiquette suggestions that follow if you plan to come and look for the eagles. And as you watch them, recall the words of John Denver's popular song:
I live in high country in rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
And all those who see me and all who believe in me share in the freedom I feel when I fly
sail o'er the canyons and up to the stars and
reach for the heavens and hope for the future
and all that we can be and not what we are
An eagle's stare from an icy sky or bare bough pierces like a laser
The mystery-dark circles centered in the yellow iris of his eyes focus keenly
Visionary power concentrated they have indeed penetrated
the center of man's being
- Eagle Viewing in the Upper Delaware Valley -
Bald eagles are not very tolerant of human activity. Human presence can stress the birds and negatively affect their feeding and roosting. The energy they use to avoid human disturbances is no longer available for other uses during the winter. Repeat disturbances can cause problems for the eagle, especially in heavily visited viewing areas along the Delaware River.
For this reason the New York Audubon Society has put together some eagle viewing guidelines, which they feel will provide the least intrusive and most successful viewing opportunities. They suggest that you follow the preferred "eagle etiquette:"
- Remain in or immediately next to your vehicle.
- Use binoculars: don't try to get "just a little bit closer."
- Remain quiet; no loud music, door slamming or yelling
- Don't do anything to try and make the bird fly
- Respect private property and restricted areas
For your safety if you come back to the Upper Delaware, we also suggest that you:
- Pull completely off the road and park in designated areas
- Watch for oncoming and passing traffic
- Be prepared for ice, snow and deep mud
- Avoid hypothermia and dress for extreme cold
published by the Upper Delaware Council, Narrowsburg, New York
The Eagle Institute
P. O. Box 182
Barryville, NY 12719
ph: 845-557-6162 or 570-685-5960
William Streeter, Delaware Valley Raptor Center, 416 Cummins Hill Road, Milford, Pennsylvania, 18337, 717-296-6025
Map Courtesy of New York Audubon Eagle Project