Bald eagles are slowly returning to Toronto

Jan 14 2017, 3:32 am

Spotting bald eagles in Toronto used to be almost impossible.

The majestic bird had a population of zero in Southern Ontario around 1980, but a positive conservation shift has taken place over the past years that is changing that count.

In Toronto, sightings of bald eagles have been increasing recently, especially in the winter.

“There have been sightings, usually in the winter time, of one or two bald eagles in the High Park and Waterfront area. But other than the migration, there haven’t been really common sightings in Toronto for quite a few years,” said Jody Allair, coordinator of the Southern Ontario Bald Eagle Monitoring Program for Bird Studies Canada.

Allair said the loss of the eagle population in Ontario was due to the use of DDT (pesticide) and habitat loss in the 80s.

“It’s taken that long, with DDT being banned and habitat coming back, and a lot of conservation work to bring them back. Now, they are no longer endangered. They are species of special concern,” Allair said, speaking with Daily Hive.

In recent years, bald eagles have been found nesting in various parts of Southern Ontario including Peterborough, Hamilton, and along Lake Eerie.

Although Toronto doesn’t have nesting pairs, Allair said there are more sightings reported in the city.

“It’s a sign that we’re getting an increase in population of the birds in Southern Ontario which is really great. It’s a conservation success story,” he said.

Toronto residents who spot bald eagles can report the sighting in a crowd sourced data collection website called ebird.

The website, which is managed by Bird Studies Canada, allows the organization to study the patterns of different species across the country. In Toronto, a bald eagle sighting was listed on January 12 at Tommy Thompson Park.

“We learn a lot from these types of observations. There’s a lot we don’t know about these particular birds. A lot of people don’t even know we have them in Southern Ontario, but we do,” said Allair. “And eagles get people excited. They’re so charismatic, they’re pretty epic looking birds.”

And now it’s not impossible to spot them in Toronto.

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