The season’s fourth Dr. S Marie Kuhnen Memorial Field Trip, Search for Eagles, took place in the Delaware Valley on Sunday, March 7, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The temperature at the start was 22 degrees and at the finish 34 degrees. It was a cold, partly cloudy, partly sunny day with lots of snow on the ground. All roads were clear and navigable.
We began by watching feeder birds including hairy woodpeckers, dark-eyed junco, blue jays, and a pileated woodpecker, among others. Six participants, wearing face coverings and social distancing, logged 144 miles in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and Upper Delaware Scenic River, from the Pocono Environmental Education Center (PEEC) to the Bushkill Access and the trip’s conclusion at the headwaters of the Lackawaxen River.
The search included seeing 33 species of birds: 15 bald eagles (10 adults and five juveniles), 12 red-tailed hawk, 1 Coopers Hawk, 2 common ravens, and a common loon.
Our first bald eagles sighted were two juvenile birds perched up river from the Bushkill Access. Returning to Toms Creek, where on the way south we had no eagle, we had an adult eagle fly above our vehicles. At the Dingmans Access we watch two juvenile eagles 100 yards up river from the bridge attack 30 common mergansers. No eagles were at Dingmans cemetery.
At the Route 209 mile marker 16 nest we observed a female adult bald eagle feeding eaglets. She was tearing pieces of a fish and feeding it to the youngsters. No eagles at the shale pit nest near mile marker 17.
A common raven flew over the Raymondskill. No luck at Milford Beach or the River Road. We spotted a perched adult bald eagle as we entered Gassman Lane on the way to checking the nest near the Charles Peirce House. Earlier during the week I spotted an eagle on the nest. Behind the Delaware Valley High School, no eagles were present.
We added a pit stop at the Pennsylvania Welcome Center.
The Laurel Grove Cemetery overlook above the Tristates Monument is where we checked an active nest. No eagle present; however, we added a common loon.
The Eddy Farm Resort overlook was quiet; no new species added.
By noon we were at the Hawks Nest historical marker. We checked the whitewash on the cliff and found a peregrine falcon in the sunlight hugging the cliff above it.
From the Indian Head Canoe livery station we located the nest on the Pennsylvania side of the river. We spotted a female adult bald eagle in the nest apparently feeding young. Another adult eagle flew above very close to us from the Pennsylvania side.
We continued to the Mongaup Falls observation blind, Plank Road, and the Rio Reservoir Dam; no eagles present. This is the first time this year we did not have an eagle on this loop.
We returned to the Delaware and traveled to the Mill Rift Bridge, where we spotted an adult bald eagle flying into a huge nest located in Pennsylvania about 200 yards upriver from the bridge. This is the first time we found this nest, which is now the tenth nest in the search area that we have under observation. At Berm-Church Road we chatted with a fellow birder, who told us about eagles recently on the ice eating a large sucker. A flock of 25 eastern bluebirds flew from feeding on staghorn sumac fruits as we chatted.
We proceeded to the Barryville-Shohola nest site; no eagles. Our 12th bald eagle of the day was an adult in flight in the vicinity of Jerry’s Canoe Livery.
We added three adult bald eagles along the Lackawaxen River. As we were crossing the Lackawaxen bridge, we spotted an eagle perched in a white pine in front of us. At the Appert Road nest, in the tree where we previously observed 11 eagles, we watched a bird nestled deep in the nest. Our final eagle of the search was a juvenile perched at eye-level in a tree at Field Bend Road.
Editor’s note: Jack Padalino, who leads the Search for Eagles, is president emeritus of the Pocono Environmental Education Center, a partner with the National Park Service.