Conesus Lake region is home to Bald Eagles. 50 years ago, the entire state bald eagle population consisted of just one single pair, which nested at the south end of Hemlock Lake in southern Livingston County.
Research led to the realization that their failure to reproduce was directly linked to DDT poisoning, which weakened their eggshells, causing the eggs to break during incubation. That discovery led to an intense DEC bald eagle restoration program.
The DEC, in a report released July 3, 2017, indicated the current breeding bald eagle population is estimated to be 323 breeding pairs, which would be the most since DEC undertook a bald eagle restoration effort in 1976.
On Conesus Lake it is not uncommon to see “our” eagles in the wetlands at the South end of the lake [their nest is there] as well as flying around the lake looking for something to eat. The bald eagle is primarily a fish eater, but also devours rodents, snakes, waterfowl and carrion.
In recent days, as the lake was freezing over I have seen large groups of various types of waterfowl concentrated into the ever shrinking pools of open water. This brings out the eagles and makes their hunting for substance a bit easier for them. I was fortunate enough to watch this “circle of life” for the better part of a day in mid-January, from the comfort of my home overlooking the lake.
Eagle watching etiquette
The state Department of Environmental Conservation's website lists several tips about proper behavior while tracking the birds.
Remain in or immediately next to your vehicle, and don't approach eagles closer than a quarter mile.
Avoid roosting areas.
Refrain from loud noises: honking horns, door slamming, radios playing, yelling, etc.
Keep pets at home.
Use binoculars or spotting scopes instead of trying to get a little closer.
Don't do anything to try to make the bird fly.
Respect private property and avoid restricted areas.