For the first time in a century, bald eagles are back in New York

New York City’s newest immigrant.
New York City’s newest immigrant.
Image: AP Photo/Dan Joling
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New York may be gentrifying even faster than we thought.

According to the Audubon Society, the first active nest of bald eagles in about a century was spotted last week on the South Shore of Staten Island. Birders hope to see signs of offspring following the usual egg incubating period of 36 days—which means a very unusual new native New Yorker is due very soon. Welcome!

“Due to the height and location of the nest, it is not possible to actually see into it from the ground,” NYC Audubon’s Tod Winston said, and the exact location of the birds nest is not being disclosed to protect the young couple. For a sense of the future, check out this live stream of a bald eagle nest with two hatchlings in nearby Pennsylvania.

The bald eagle—the national symbol of the United States since 1787—was once ravaged by destruction of its habitat and the use of the pesticide DDT, which damages the bird’s reproductive systems and was finally banned in 1972. According to Audubon, there were only 487 nesting pairs in the contiguous United States in 1963.

The return of the bald eagle to New York—and the metropolis of New York City at that—in 2015 is being hailed by Audubon, which has protected waterbird species in the US since the 1890s:

The presence of these eagles in such a densely populated human environment means two very encouraging things: the local ecosystem is a lot less polluted than it used to be, and the eagle population is getting large enough that some birds are actually getting crowded out of more remote habitats. That’s a big step for a species that appeared to be heading for extinction just a few decades ago.