Bald Eagles

Bald eagle in flight - Don Freiday/USFWS.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge played an integral role in reintroducing the once-endangered bald eagle to New York State. Here is an account of this innovative restoration program, and a little history on Montezuma's bald eagles.

Today, the refuge boasts six active bald eagle nests. The infamous trio's nest can be viewed from Armitage Road, located off of NY State Route 89. The trio has nested on the refuge since 1987; the two males are from a reintroduction program conducted in the late 1970s. In 1994, a pair of bald eagles nested on Tschache Pool and has remained on the refuge, producing young eagles since then! In 2006, a new pair of breeding bald eagles made the Refuge their home. In what can only be described as a "National Geographic moment," eagle battled osprey over an existing osprey nest located along the Canal on Lock #1, locally known as Mud Lock. A battle on the wing ensued, talons locked, birds screamed, but in the end, the eagle won and when nesting season came for the bald eagles, they settled into the osprey nest on the lock. However, they moved their nest into the trees closer to Cayuga Lake for the 2012/2013 nesting season. A nest on the Main Pool’s Maple Island, a second nest at Tschache pool, and one located in Savannah off of the intersection of State Routes 89 and 31 are the most recent additions to the bald eagle nest count!

There are two other known eagle nests in the area, and within the Montezuma Wetlands Complex. These two nests are located in the Savannah area on NYS DEC Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area. One is located not too far from the Montezuma Audubon Center.

While there are only a handful of nests, bald eagle numbers on the refuge may surprise you. During one bird survey along the Main Pool, volunteer LaRue St. Clair spotted 59 eagles in one morning (many of these were immature)! The bald eagle story is surely one of success and in June 2007, the bald eagle was taken off of the endangered species list.

Bald eagle factsheet (pdf)