For our walk this morning we chose the Mount Vernon Trail starting at Belle Haven Park. Passing by what I dubbed "Eagle Tree," which sits across from National Harbor, we were disappointed not to see the two eagles that have taken up residence there. Then, right as we were turning around, they flew in and landed (I’ve heard this is a cottonwood tree).
Seeing eagles at this spot is certainly nothing new. Googling “eagles GW Parkway” will net you Paula Sullivan’s fantastic gallery of photos of these majestic birds. She also documented their behavior patterns several years ago. “Alex and Belle” found fame this way.
Post readers will recall “George and Martha,” who nested near the old Wilson Bridge. In 2009, I stopped and talked with Anthony Peritore who was photographing a pair of osprey.
As noted by David A. Fahrenthold (Washington Post Staff Writer, July 21, 2009),
Bald eagles vanished from the Washington area and many other places in the 20th century because of hunting, development and the eggshell-thinning effects of the pesticide DDT. The birds rebounded under the protection of the Endangered Species Act. There were 417 nesting pairs in the lower 48 in 1963; now there are more than 1,000 in the Chesapeake Bay region alone.
Summing up what many must feel about these eagles, a commenter at Sullivan’s site said this:
This is the third year I've driven to work and the Eagles are out and about. It brings such a feeling of pride to me first thing in the morning. All I can do is smile for the rest of my trip to work.