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Bald eagle sightings reported along Charles River

This bald eagle was spotted in a tree near the Massachusetts Avenue bridge on April 20.
This bald eagle was spotted in a tree near the Massachusetts Avenue bridge on April 20.(Marc Perry)
This bald eagle was photographed on the Esplanade on April 12.
This bald eagle was photographed on the Esplanade on April 12.(Colin Flavin)

Marc Perry had just finished a shift at work and was walking to his home in Brookline Saturday morning when he spotted something he’d never seen before: a bald eagle perched in a tree along the Charles River.

“This was a first,” said Perry, 40, who’s seen plenty of hawks before, “but never a bald eagle.”

It was about 8:22 a.m., and the national bird was perched on the branch of a tree on the Boston side of the Charles River, near the Massachusetts Avenue bridge. Its white head was facing the water. Perry held up his iPhone and quickly snapped a photo of the majestic avian.

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His encounter was the latest bald eagle sighting along the Charles River in recent weeks.

The Esplanade Association, a nonprofit group dedicated to maintaining and improving the Charles River Esplanade, has been receiving reports of a couple of sightings each week during late March and early April.

“It’s been encouraging to see,” said Michael J. Nichols, the executive director of the Esplanade Association. “To experience this type of wildlife is a special experience.”

Most of the sightings have been reported through social media, and it’s not clear whether the sightings have been of the same bird, or several birds, he said.

On the morning of April 12, Jenn Blazejewski, 39, was running along the Charles River when she noticed several people looking up at a bald eagle in a tree. She took a photo of the bird and posted it to Instagram.

She runs along the Charles on most mornings and has seen hawks, but this was the first time she’d ever seen a bald eagle in this area.

“It was pretty amazing,” she said.

Later that same morning, Colin Flavin, the founding principal of Flavin Architects, shared a dramatic photo of a bald eagle eating a fish in a tree on the Esplanade.

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“Thanks to the amazing efforts to clean up the Charles River Watershed, and the beautiful bike path along Boston’s Esplanade, conceived by Landscape Architects Charles Eliot, Guy Lowell and Arthur Shurcliff, this is what I was able to see on my ride to work this morning,” he wrote as the caption on Instagram. “Can anyone identify the fish in the Bald Eagle’s grasp?”

On Feb. 27, Daniel Bergstresser, a professor at Brandeis International Business School, posted a photo of a bald eagle on Twitter. “My @BrandeisU friend and colleague Eric Olson took this photo of an eagle near the Charles River, very close to our university’s campus,” he wrote. “Cool photo, great to see the big birds coming back.”

Bald eagles have been seen along the Charles River before. The Globe previously reported that a bald eagle was spotted on the Esplanade in January 2018, and two bald eagles were seen near the Longfellow Bridge in January 2016.

Breeding bald eagles disappeared from Massachusetts in the early 1900s, and restoration efforts began in 1982 after eagles were discovered wintering in the Quabbin Reservoir area, according to the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Since then, the bald eagle population has been on the upswing.

In 2016 state officials identified 59 territorial pairs of bald eagles in Massachusetts. The following year 68 pairs were identified, and 76 pairs were identified in 2018, according to the MassWildlife website.

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Laura Jasinski, executive director of the Charles River Conservancy, said that while much work remains to be done, the presence of bald eagles and other wildlife is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

“We always love to hear about wildlife returning to the Charles River basin,” she said.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.