The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Ahlstrom Nonwovens LLC have announced the re-opening of the southern end of the popular Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail on July 1, 2011 after two young bald eagles have successfully fledged and will be testing their new flying skills along the Connecticut River this Independence Day weekend.
“Temporary closure of the trail allowed the adult eagles to efficiently—and successfully—attend their nest and young during the inclement weather this past spring,” said Jenny Dickson, DEP Supervising Wildlife Biologist. “The public’s patience and understanding during the closure have been rewarded by the success of the adult pair on their first nesting attempt.”
Once in decline due to the effects of pesticides, nesting bald eagles returned to Connecticut in 1992, after an absence of almost 50 years. Twenty-three bald eagle pairs were documented in the state this year, and 21 of those pairs made nests. Three of the 21 nests failed, and the 18 successful bald eagle pairs have fledged 29 chicks.
The DEP Windsor Locks Canal State Park Trail is formed from a historic towpath built to bypass the Enfield rapids in the Connecticut River. The rapids provide a shallow area that is perfect for the bald eagles to find their preferred food of fish. It is not a surprise, then, that the eagles chose a nest site near a feeding area.
Bald eagles are protected during the nesting season by Connecticut General Statute 26-93 and are protected on the federal level by the Bald Eagle and Golden Eagle Protection Act of 1940 and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The DEP Wildlife Division has published a fact sheet on bald eagles, which is available on the DEP Web site at www.ct.gov/dep/wildlife.