Watching the world go by your window is part of what makes riding Amtrak so pleasurable. This is especially true when the scenery includes the Hudson River and surrounding woodlands. It’s such a relaxing view that it can lull you into dreaming—unless you’re searching for Bald Eagles on the Hudson.
Surprising to many train travelers, Bald Eagles live along the Hudson River, and it’s easy for keen observers to spot them, says Lisa Masi, a senior wildlife biologist for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New Paltz.
Nesting season for Bald Eagles takes place from March to July. “They’re more localized and territorial then,” Masi says. Eagles’ nests are very large, even reaching “upwards of hundreds of pounds,” so they tend to choose tall, sturdy trees. A pair of eagles will reuse a nest, once it is rebuilt.
“They’ll be in the tall tree you see emerging from the canopy,” she says. “It can be a pine, a hardwood, or any type of tree, as long as it’s thick and large. When there are no leaves, eagles’ nests are obvious. They’re a very large bramble of sticks toward the top of the tree, near the trunk or on a thick branch. Once leaves are on the trees, they’re harder to spot.”
In summertime, eagles fly over the Hudson and dart down to its surface to hunt. “Eagles primarily eat fish, but they’ll also eat waterfowl and carrion,” says Masi. But wintertime is also a good time to spot eagles. “When the river is frozen, birds congregate in areas of open water, mostly where tributaries empty into the Hudson,” she says. “If the weather is not too cold and the river isn’t frozen, eagles can be anywhere.” This includes up in their nests, conserving energy for the mating season.
PROTECTING BALD EAGLES ON THE HUDSON
To protect the eagles, the DEC doesn’t provide specific whereabouts of nests. “Watching from the train may be one of the best ways to observe eagles with least additional stress to the birds,” she says. “Like other wildlife, eagles are susceptible to impacts from folks not taking necessary steps to avoid harassing or disturbing them while watching them.” For more information on watching Bald Eagles on the Hudson River, visit dec.ny.gov/animals.
BOOKING YOUR BALD EAGLE SPOTTING ADVENTURE
Don’t forget to use the See New York and Save 15% Discount when purchasing tickets along the Adirondack, Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express and Maple Leaf Amtrak lines. Or, take a look at these other great discounts offered by Amtrak and New York By Rail.
Staying overnight? Get picked up at most Amtrak stations by Enterprise Rent-a-Car and taken to your reserved rental car! Use code NYTRAIN for a discount when making your reservation. Click here to see if your destination offers an Enterprise pick up.