Snapshot: A Bald Eagle Lands at Napatree Point

The majestic bird of prey boasts one of America's greatest comeback stories, and its population is on the rise in Rhode Island.
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Photograph by Wolf Matthewson.

In the history of American comeback stories, the bald eagle has one of the best. In the mid-twentieth century, we drove our national bird to the edge of extinction via widespread use of the pesticide, DDT, which thinned their eggshells to the point of reproductive failure. The United States banned the chemical in 1972 and, slowly but surely, the bald eagle rose once again. No longer endangered, Haliaeetus leucocephalus now breeds in Rhode Island, says Lauren Parmelee of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, with five confirmed nests near open water — most notably the Scituate Reservoir. Rhode Islanders, of both the human and avian sort, are taking notice. As this bald eagle feasts on a rabbit dinner at Napatree Point in Westerly, an envious gull hovers in flight and a crow looms a bit too close for comfort. “I feel like he was in danger of being food,” says photographer Wolf Matthewson. Eagles mostly subsist on fish and small mammals, but eating crow is not out of the question. Adds Parmelee: “Whatever an eagle wants, pretty much, an eagle is going to take.”