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Eaglets have people talking because the area they were born in has a comeback story of its own By Megan Thomas , CBC News Posted: Mar 28, 2013 7:06 AM ET Last Updated: Apr 01, 2013 9:16 AM ET

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The first baby bald eagles born in the Hamilton area in decades are another sign that extensive efforts to rehabilitate the local environment are working, say those who work in conservation. READ: Eaglets hatch By the early 1980s, bald eagles were all but extinct in the northern Lake Ontario region. In fact, there were only four active nests in all of the Great Lakes, largely due to the widespread use of the pesticide DDT. Conservationists were thrilled a few years ago when a pair of eagles nested in an area near Hamilton that is part of the Royal Botanical Gardens, but the pair failed to reproduce. They were thrilled again when the pair successfully hatched young on the weekend.

Extensive rehabilitation The eaglets also have people talking because the area they were born in, called Cootes Paradise, has a comeback story of its own. McMaster University biology professor Patricia Chow-Fraser has been involved with rehabilitation efforts in the 840-hectare wetland and woodland.

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Baby eagles a sign that Hamilton environmental rehabilitation working - ...

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The view from in the eagle's nest in Cootes Paradise in August of 2012. (supplied) "It’s just like human neighbourhoods. If you really want a vibrant neighbourhood, you want to start seeing kids there," said Chow-Fraser, who specializes in Great Lakes environments. Chow-Fraser said the installation of a special barrier to keep invasive carp out of Cootes Paradise was critical, along with efforts to better deal with sewage treatment in Hamilton and runoff from nearby urban development. Besides the pair of eagles, other examples of native biodiversity returning to the area include populations of large-mouth bass and northern pike, she said.

Community effort The baby bald eagles are also a boost for those who have worked to restore the waterways that feed into Cootes Paradise, said Scott Peck, director of watershed planning and engineering for the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

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A number of groups and organizations have contributed to rehabilitation efforts in the Hamilton area, including in the Spencer Creek Watershed, which flows into Cootes Paradise. (supplied) "It’s a tremendous good feeling," Peck said. He added that a number of groups in Hamilton and Burlington have been contributing to the rehabilitation of the Hamilton’s harbour and the Spencer Creek watershed, which feeds into Cootes Paradise. "The eagles make that visual identification that things are getting better in the watershed," he said "There’s certainly more work to be done, but it’s certainly a good indicator."

Project Paradise Much of the improvement in Cootes Paradise is a result of one of the largest restoration efforts of it's kind on the Great Lakes called Project Paradise, led by Royal Botanical Gardens. "This milestone is a testament to the restoration efforts of Project Paradise," RBG’s Head of Natural Lands, Tys Theysmeyer, told CBC News this week. "As we bring Cootes Paradise back to the condition it was in before the 20th century, species that once called this area their home will continue to return." The rehabilitation efforts in the western tip of Lake Ontario include nesting platforms, artificial ponds, an aquatic nursery, and a unique carp barrier. The roots of Project Paradise date back to 1986 when the International Joint Commission named Hamilton Harbour one of 42 Areas of Concern. The nest, located in the Hopkins Woods Special Protection Area, can be viewed at a safe distance from the Marshwalk Boardwalk, which is accessed from the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum, the RBG said.

Related Stories First eaglets hatched on north shore of Lake Ontario in decades Rare bald eagles nesting in Hamilton Rare peregrine falcon pair expecting, are stars of webcam

External Links Great Lakes Wetlands research Great Lakes Wetlands research

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Great Lakes Wetlands research (Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.) Comments on this story are pre-moderated. Before they appear comments are reviewed by moderators to ensure they meet our submission guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time. Login | Signup

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SelkirkFarm Yup.. We've had them on Lake Erie for some 20 years... Because of the absolutely stunning level of pollution in Lake Ontario those Eagles could only be nested in a large tributary of water that "feeds" Lake Ontario.. The fish diet from that lake would, because of the culmative effects of those pollutants, not allow the Eagles to survive past a single generation of breeding and nurturing.. Other areas of Lake Ontario that might be suitable for their introduction and thriving survival would ... » more

Brendaat54 This is encouraging, but two babies does not a flock make. And more to the point, with Eagles, it is the instinct of the stronger of the two chicks to push to weaker one out of the nest. That being said, I was visiting Vancouver Island many years ago and was on a boat tour. The guide pointed out some Eagle's nests and made the comment that it was the first time she saw the parents actually raising both chicks. Possibly an instinctual sign that the pressure was on to reproduce as much as ... » more

Groundbreaker Great news! Cootes Paradise and the Gardens are truly gems. The decline in wildlife worldwide is awful but the Hamilton area is showing that damage can be reversed. I'd love to see more of this! Notably, I'd love to see the local naturalist's group's Cootes-to-Escarpment conservation scheme take off. That would have a huge positive impact.

Groundbreaker Great news! Cootes Paradise and the Gardens are truly gems. The decline in wildlife worldwide is awful but the Hamilton area is showing that damage can be reversed. I'd love to see more of this! Notably, I'd love to see the local naturalist's group's Cootes-to-Escarpment conservation scheme take off. That would have a huge positive impact.

Lasher500 Sure......it's all hold hands Kumbaya and welcome back Eagles.....until a baby gets carried away.

Taxman90210 This is great news. Eagles are such beautiful birds to watch them soar in the air. For the last 2 years I have seen 3 vultures perched on trees along the mountain brow in Hamilton. They are so beautiful when they soar in the air. i will definitely have to go down to Cootes Paradise and watch these eagles soar through the air and maybe I can catch a glimpse of the young eagles as they fly in the air. There is something beautiful watching birds of prey flying in the air. they are so majestic ...

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David A. D. I am thrilled to see CBC pick up this story, and loved the video... but not so thrilled with the written coverage of the restoration efforts that makes up the second 2/3 of the written article! I mean this in the best way possible: *Please* interview the head of Conservation at Royal Botanical Gardens. The written article makes it sound as if Prof. Chow-Fraser is a relevant leading authority on the wetland restoration, and that she should be sharing this achievement with the Hamilton ... Âť more

David A. D. PS - Thank you CBC for adding in the "Project Paradise" section at the end of the article! Now things are much clearer, and RBG is getting some well-deserved recognition!

D. MacGuinn Wow, Paradise indeed! Well done. They are a majestic bird and this shows just what collaboration may achieve.

Atropa Way to go HCA! Welcome little eaglets! PS - There are lots of pigeons in my neighbourhood who are dying to meet you when you grow up.

adam I've seen them along Lake Huron for about 3 years now (around the Kettle Point area)....they're back....I think the environmental re-habilitation helps, but it is not the only variable...they seem to be re-appearing in a number of areas

adam why the thumbs down? they've been seen in London as well...sorry if it takes the wind out of your "rehabilitation" sails but you can't fight evidence....let's all celebrate the return

Submission Policy Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.

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