Brick's bald eagles are in good company.
The bald eagle's status was upgraded by the state last week from endangered to threatened for the non-breeding season, reflecting significant population improvements, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Protection.
Officials at the DEP credit the discontinuation of DDT and other pesticides, DEP management, habitat protection and improved water quality with the resurgence of the national bird in the Garden State.
"The success of our threatened and endangered wildlife is an important indicator of the health of our overall environment," said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin in a statement. "We have many positive takeaways from this most recent update to the lists, but we are also reminded that much work still lies ahead of us."
According to the DEP, endangered species are those whose prospects for survival are in immediate danger due to one or several factors, such as loss or degradation of habitat, exploitation, predation, competition, disease or environmental degradation. A threatened species is one that could become endangered due to its small population size, restricted range and/or specialized habitat needs.
Brick Township is home to two eagle populations – one near the Tunes Brook Branch of Kettle Creek in the southern part of town, and another along the south shore of the Manasquan River in the northern part of town.
A reporter's look (through binculars) at the southern nest on Monday showed no eagles in a well-known congregating area, but local residents say the birds have been spotted frequently throughout the winter.
"He or she has visited our dock to hunt the little ducks," said John Zingis, a Brick resident, in an e-mail.
Last week's announcement also brought good signs for the state's osprey population. The status of the iconic sea bird species has likewise been upgraded to threatened from endangered.