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St. John River: Return Flight

Bald eagles recover old nesting sites

More on the St. John River:
St. John River:
The Good and the Bountiful

Cargo of Misery:
Disease and death stalk desperate newcomers

Company Town:
Boss Gibson's Marysville

Natural delicacy of the river valley

Fir Trade:
Forests are vital to New Brunswick's economy

Fries to Go:
Fast food for the world

Home Children:
Tragic chapter in our immigration history

Big Noise:
Foghorn is invented for Partridge Island

Return Flight:
Bald eagles recover old nesting sites

The Sand and the Fury:
The complex ecology of the Fundy tides

Starting Over:
Loyalists seek refuge from revolution

Vive la République !:
The unique cultural mélange of Madawaska

Fifty years ago, the basin of the lower Saint John was an important nesting spot for bald eagles, an enduring North American symbol of power and dignity.

They made their nests in tall, strong, white pine, elm and maple trees. The branches were the perfect camouflage for their colouring. Preferring to breed near water, the Saint John River allowed them to be close to a good supply of fish.

The birds suffered a dramatic decline in the mid-1900s. Only one pair was seen in the 1970s.

One belief is that the farm poison, DDT, prevented the eagle eggs from hatching. DDT is an insecticide that tends to accumulate in ecosystems, having a toxic effect on many types of wildlife. Another theory says that the birds were simply shot by irresponsible hunters.

By the 1970s, DDT use was banned and the chemical started to slowly disappear from the fish and animal populations from which the eagles harvested their food. At the same time, education and legislation reduced the irresponsible killing of wildlife. The eagles began to reappear.

The sight of these soaring raptors is, once again, becoming an everyday occurrence. There are now an estimated 30 breeding birds the lower Saint John River valley.

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