The Gloucester County Times (GCT) is a daily newspaper in Woodbury, New Jersey, United States. Its main competitors are The Philadelphia Inquirer across the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, and the Courier-Post in South Jersey.
Christina Paciolla gives today’s top stories in the Gloucester County Times. 911 notes is a roundup of news and notes by Times police reporter Lucas Murray about police, fire and emergency medical services people in Gloucester County. Have something newsworthy that doesn’t make the crime blotter?
It is a sister newspaper to both the The News of Cumberland County (in Cumberland County) and Today’s Sunbeam (in Salem County), as all are owned by Advance Publications.
I saw an eagle flying over my house in Woodbury a few days ago.
Twenty-five years ago this would have been a remarkable sighting. In 1983, there was only one active bald eagle nest in New Jersey.
But things are different today. In fact, I suspect that if I spent a lot of time looking up into the sky on clear days, and scanning with binoculars the tops of tall trees and structures, I could probably see an eagle at least once a week without going far from home.
In 2009, there were 84 eagle nests in New Jersey, and 99 young birds fledged. Forty percent of the nests were along Delaware Bay and tributary rivers from Gloucester to Cape May Counties. A survey in January 2009 counted 282 eagles in New Jersey.
What happened? Why the change?
Probably the biggest factor was the banning of DDT and other allied pesticides in 1972. These chemicals induced production of very thin-shelled eggs that could not be successfully incubated.
In addition, the state of New Jersey, from 1983 to 1991, reared 60 eagle chicks, mostly from Canada, on artificial nesting platforms so that the birds, when mature, would return here to nest. Similar programs took place in other states.
In New Jersey, eagles typically lay two eggs between mid-February and early March. The incubation period is about 35 days. The young birds won’t leave the nest until May or early June, but they will hang around the nest tree for a while after that.
Juvenile eagles wander widely for their first four or five years, but established pairs tend to stay close to home.
In winter, our local populations are augmented by birds that have migrated in from points farther north, so there are more eagles in New Jersey in winter than in summer.
Where can you see an eagle? Well, you could drive around in suitable habitat, looking for big birds and very large nests in trees.
Or, just keep looking up (not while driving, please.)
An adult eagle, with white head and tail, is easy to recognize. Immatures, up to the age of three or so, are more or less uniformly dark, and could be mistaken for a turkey vulture.
But vultures have wings that are dark on the leading edge and pale on the trailing edge when viewed from below, and they soar with the wing tips above the body, making a shallow vee.
Eagles soar on flat wings.
Since bald eagles eat a lot of fish, you are most likely to see one near water. The marshes along Raccoon Creek and Oldman’s Creek are likely places in Gloucester County. Farther south, success is even more likely along or the Mannington Marshes in Salem County, or the marshes around Fortescue in Cumberland County.