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Bald eagles making comeback in Vt. - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Bald eagles making comeback in Vt.

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BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Driving down a nondescript dirt road in southeastern Vermont, wildlife biologist John Buck heads toward one of 16 bald eagle nesting sites.

After a quick trek through the woods and up a steep incline, he arrives at the site. About a thousand feet away, a single bald eagle sits in a nest atop a tall tree. "This nest has been repeatedly visited by the same pair since 2008," said Buck.

While the bird's movements can barely be seen with the naked eye, its distinct white head feathers stand out among the vegetation. "One of the pair is incubating. We don't know how many eggs because we are quite a distance from the nest. We certainly don't want to disturb what is going over there," said Buck.

In only a few days time, up to four tiny bald eagle hatchlings will be born. It's a miracle of life that fish and wildlife officials, like Buck, say people need to respect. "Invariably they get too close, can disturb the nest and that may result in abandonment and failure. We certainly don't want that to happen while these birds are making their claim back to this state," said Buck.

Bald eagles, which are a symbol of America, used to be on the federal endangered species list. But officials say thanks to regulation and habitat management that is no longer the case. However, they are still endangered in Vermont. "It is hoped that we will be able to de-list them in the next decade or so as they continue to repopulate all of this good habitat that we have here," said Buck.

The recent release of a bald eagle in Thetford shows how fragile their lives can be. This young eagle was nursed back to health after been critically injured, mostly like, by a passing car.

But in a nest, which is about 6 feet in diameter and can weigh up to a thousand pounds, a new round of eagles will soon enter the world with their parents at their side for several more months. "They will continue to feed them throughout the summer until the young birds experiment with flight," said Buck.

And soon after, Buck says the adults will leave and the birds will be on their own. Young eagles, while they grow rapidly, do not get the white head and tail feathers until they are about five-years-old. That is also about the time they begin to breed. It's a springtime event that's unfolding in this Windsor County tree and other areas around the state. And in less than a year's time, the process will begin again. "January or February, they will return to the nest, pair up once again and begin the cycle all over," said Buck.

It's a bird that symbolizes strength and hope -- making a comeback in the wild.

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