Brant Land Trust, Brantford Ontario Canada

Magestic Bald Eagles Making a Comeback

Bald eagles were always in southern Ontario. It was because of the eagles that habituated the section of the river that winds around the southern part of Brantford that this area- Eagle Place, got its name. At one time farmers considered them vermin because they attacked their livestock, particularly chickens and small animals. What people do not realize is the frequent use of DDT and other sprays which were used to combat the mosquito population back pre-1970 severely affected the birds and the fish that live in the County of Brant. The Silent Spring is a book written that describes the extent of DDT sprays even being used in paint to stop mosquitos from coming in our homes. That was back in the day!

The eagles were at the top of the food pyramid and ate mostly fish. Contaminants from farm runoff was making it ways into the rivers and streams that feed into the Grand River and other rivers in our area. These contaminants built up in the eagles and they eventually lost their ability to breed and raise young. The eagles disappeared completely.

Various levels of government started paying attention to the health of the Grand River. After all, many municipalities use the water from the Grand River as their prime and secondary source of water. As a result of this networking action, there was heightened awareness that a healthy river would be a win-win for all. As a result of concerted effort, the habitat of the eagles has been restored and their numbers have begun to climb again.

Bald eagles will live for 30 years in captivity, but in the wild they usually die sometime in their 20’s. When the feathers of eagles are analyzed they are still found to have heavy concentrations of heavy metals and other chemicals that cause their lives to be shortened, so there is still much work to be done.

These three young eagles pictured here live along the Grand River. We are all noticing a re-appearance of more blue herons, osprey and red tail hawks. It is exciting to see these birds come back – they have been absent for too long. Now is our time to create a healthy corridor along the Grand River watershed. We can then have a positive story to tell our grandchildren.

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