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Bald eagle
Photograph: Shutterstock

Meet Rover the Bald Eagle NYC's newest pet

An expert naturalist and bird guide tells us about the eagle that spawned hundreds of tweets.

Anna Rahmanan
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Anna Rahmanan
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It doesn't take much in NYC for a wild animal to turn into an overnight celebrity.

Cases in point: the duck nesting on the Metropolitan Museum's roof garden back in 2020, the beautiful Snowy Owl that was seen in Central Park for the first time in over a century last year, and, perhaps most famous of them all, the Central Park mandarin duck (also known as Mandarin Patinkin or Hot Duck) which was sighted at the park's pond beginning late 2018. (Bette Midler even published a children's book about it!)

Now, we've got a new pet to add to our local roster of exciting wildlife: Rover the bald eagle. 

Expert bird watchers have noticed the mature eagle circling and hunting around our very own park beginning this past weekend and, as they are wont to do, New Yorkers took to social media to document their very own sightings. 

Rover's claim to fame? A specific Sunday evening hunt by the frozen Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir—an event that was caught on camera. Take a look: 

Turns out, the ability to access the semi-frozen reservoir is exactly what led Rover to this part of town.

"My guess is that Rover is wandering around because the lake [he is usually by in upstate New York] has frozen over and he is looking for open water," explains Kellye Rosenheim, an expert naturalist and bird guide at NYC Audubon. "For Rover to [stick around], the reservoir would have to stay as an open body of water. Bald eagles prefer to fish but it really is the open water that attracts them."

The excitement around the sighting also points to recent conservation efforts. In fact, according to Rosenheim, bald eagles were on the path toward extinction as a result of overhunting and the wide use of the pesticide DDT. "With the banning of DDT, bald eagles have been coming back," she explains. "So they are a huge success story in terms of conservation."

If you're on the hunt for Rover, keep in mind that the eagle boasts a white head and tail alongside solid dark brown/black plumage throughout the rest of his body. (Fun fact: the first few years of a young eagle's life, the creature sports dark plumage all throughout—the characteristic white head and tail only appear once the bird reaches breeding age.)

Also to note: Rover is tagged with a band that says R7. (Albeit, it will admittedly be hard for you to see that if the bird is high up in the air.)

If you're lucky enough to catch sight of him, Rosenheim warns not to "make a lot of noise or jump up and down waving your hands." If doing so, Rover will likely fly away. "Be respectful as you would of every celebrity," she says half-jokingly. "Give [him] privacy and space and consider this is a bird that is just trying to get through the winter. It needs to rest in order to survive."

Oh, and in case you were wondering whether the eagle might be able to snatch your purse or your dog—worry not, says the bird guru, that's not going to happen.

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