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Bald eagle spotted in Bermuda

A bald eagle hunts over the Great Sound. (Photograph by Eva Botelli)

The national bird of the USA was spotted on the hunt in Bermuda for the first time in 34 years this weekend.

A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Audubon Society said the juvenile bald eagle was seen on the wing between Morgan’s Point and Fort Scaur on Sunday.

She said: “We first became aware of this visiting bald eagle when we heard rumours about an unusually large raptor flying around Bermuda.

“Then photographs began to surface. The first documented sightings were over Port Royal Golf Course and at Lodge Point Park.

“This gave us an idea of where to go looking and we were rewarded with excellent views.”

The spokeswoman added that bird watchers had seen the eagle harassing another bird of prey – an osprey – and attempt to steal a fish the second bird had in its talons.

She said: “This is a common behaviour of bald eagles. They prefer to feed on fish but will eat what is available, including other birds, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans and small mammals.”

The spokeswoman said the last time a bald eagle was seen in Bermuda was 1988 and examples were also spotted in 1986, 1979 and 1953.

She added: “We suspect that this bird came in with one of the weather fronts that we have had over the past few weeks.

“Immature bald eagles are known to be wanderers and the last one seen here was also a juvenile.”

The spokeswoman said: “We cannot predict how long this bird might stay. Hopefully, it will be long enough for it to feed and gather strength for its journey back to the East Coast.”

She added that Morgan’s Point was a popular location to look for birds of prey and highlighted that two red-tailed hawks lived in the area before work to clear the site for the Caroline Bay hotel project began.

She said: “Northern harrier, Eurasian marsh harrier, peregrine falcon, merlin and American kestrel have all been seen there.

“This is an example of how valuable large areas of undeveloped open space can be for migrant visitors.

“Bird populations are declining throughout the world and Bermuda offers a sanctuary for food and rest on their long journeys.”

Bald eagles, native to North America, take their name from their distinctive white head.

But the plumage grows in over time, with birds usually not achieving their final colouration until they reach the age of five.

The birds can weigh up to 13lb with a length of 31in and a wingspan of up to 80in when full grown.

The species was hit by hunting and the use of pesticides in the US.

Bald eagles were declared an endangered species in 1973 after only 417 breeding pairs were logged.

But the population has since bounced back, with more than 10,000 breeding pairs reported in 2007.

The Audubon Society appealed to anyone who spots an interesting or unusual bird in to let them know by e-mail to info@audubon.bm or through by Facebook message.

The spokeswoman added photographs of the birds were “particularly helpful”.

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Published April 05, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated April 05, 2022 at 11:09 am)

Bald eagle spotted in Bermuda

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