Beloved bald eagle Rover spotted again in the skies above Central Park

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By Dan Sears

A bald eagle and New York City celebrity named Rover was spotted in the skies over Central Park on Monday.

Rover enchanted New Yorkers when he frequented the park in 2022, showing off his hunting skills near the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. The Manhattan Bird Alert X account, run by David Barrett, celebrated the latest sighting on Monday. But Barrett couldn’t capture a crisp photo of the majestic creature, so he posted one from 2022 to alert bird lovers of Rover’s return.

“I saw an adult bald eagle flying low over the trees south of the north gatehouse. So, I immediately realized that it had to be Rover. He was coming back for another visit,” Barrett told Gothamist on Monday.

Barrett said what makes Rover special is that he can often be seen hunting in Central Park.

“He would chase the gulls, he would sometimes catch a gull and eat a gull out on the ice. And he put on a great show,” Barrett said. “And he did it most days, and sometimes [he] visited several times in the day. So, you could come out to the reservoir, there was a good chance of seeing Rover if you were patient. And of course, an adult bald eagle is an amazing sight.”

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Rover’s also easily identifiable by his “R7” band, which he was first tagged with in 2018. Birders in Brooklyn, where the bald eagle could often be seen in Green-Wood Cemetery and Prospect Park, named him Rover because the R is placed over the seven on the band, according to Barrett.

X user Caren Jahre posted a close-up of Rover sporting his metal bracelet on Monday.

“Rover the Bald Eagle returned this morning to one of its favorite dining destinations, the Central Park Reservoir,” Jahre’s post read. “It perched on the south side while hunting for gulls, identified by the R7 band on its left leg.”

Twitter user Cole Coldwater also posted pictures of the famous flyer on Monday, reporting that he made an “explosive return to the NYC scene today, hunting gulls over the reservoir.”

Bald eagle sightings have become increasingly common, mainly due to the ban of the insecticide DDT, according to NYC Audubon spokesperson Andrew Moss.

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“It’s a conservation success story,” Moss said. “These birds were not often seen around New York City and at one point they were actually on the verge of extinction in the 1970s. But it’s a story of how humans can help protect wild birds. At the time in 1976, there was about one pair of bald eagles in New York state. Now, there’s about 400 pairs.”

Although it’s uncertain if Rover will return to putting on daily performances at the reservoir this winter, New Yorkers are likely to see more bald eagles year-round in the future. According to Moss, a pair nested on Staten Island in 2015, while another tried nesting on an island across from Jamaica Bay as recently as last year.

“Great news for our city so people can enjoy these wonderful birds and also just shows how great — how much improved our environment has become for these birds and the 350 other species of birds that come through New York City each year,” Moss said.

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