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Photo of bald eagles battling
Following successful restoration efforts, New York State is home to as many as 426 mating pairs of American bald eagles.

HarborScope blog

Bald eagles fight in flight

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On a clear June day in 2023, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) played host to a spectacular display of aerial prowess. Across the street from CSHL’s McClintock and Luke buildings, two American bald eagles battled through the trees. One, a Laboratory resident. The other, an invading rival.

There to witness it all was Vlad Drozdoff, chief patent counsel for CSHL’s Office of Business Development & Technology Transfer.

“I heard some commotion, quickly grabbed my camera, and ran to the seawall,” Drozdoff says. “I barely had time to focus as the two eagles came tearing out of the trees above me. It was our resident male with a fierce defense of one of his favorite fishing spots, sending a stern message to the uninvited ‘guest’ to back off or else. Cooler heads fortunately prevailed, and the intruding male made a hasty escape.”

The American bald eagle is the United States’ national bird. In 1782, as many as 100,000 called the country home. But a combination of habitat loss, hunting, and the effects of the pesticide DDT pushed these amazing animals to the verge of extinction. By 1963, only 417 nesting pairs were known to exist. Now, thanks to successful conservation efforts, more than 316,000 American bald eagles live in the continental U.S.

Image of bald eagle photos
CSHL’s resident male bald eagle is often spotted fishing from the inner harbor.

“After many years of only a few confirmed nesting pairs on Long Island, it’s great to see the population making such a comeback,” Drozdoff says. “But with that comes increasing competition for prime nesting and fishing territory. In nearby Centerport, after the resident ‘dad’ sadly passed away, four different suitors competed for mom’s attention.”

CSHL’s Office of Business Development & Technology Transfer is no stranger to competition. The office is always on the hunt for the next great idea. They work with CSHL scientists and potential investors to turn lab research into viable business ventures.

Since 1890, CSHL and its predecessors have been stewards of the Cold Spring Harbor area’s rich history and beautiful environment. The Laboratory’s resident bald eagles are part of a diverse avian ecosystem featuring red-tailed hawks, mockingbirds, cardinals, blackbirds, and more.

Over at the nearby Jones building, Charles Darwin’s statue looks on approvingly.

Photo of a bald eagle
The defeated rival retreats after his confrontation with CSHL’s resident male. Cold Spring Harbor and nearby Centerport are each home to nesting pairs of bald eagles.


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