By Seth Daniel
It was enough to make everyone in the Point of Pines put their hands over their hearts and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Last week, America’s national bird, the bald eagle – the undeniable symbol of American freedom – landed on Revere Beach and camped out on several houses in the Pines, at one point even feasting on a striped bass right on the beach.
The sighting, which has been catalogued and confirmed by Mass Audubon, has been the talk of the Pines.
“All the neighbors were talking about it and everyone was walking around,” said Rice Avenue resident Jay Piazza, who followed the giant bird around for about three hours and snapped some amazing photos that are featured in the paper this week. “It was phenomenal. Everyone was talking about it…When I heard about it, I figured it had to be a hawk. In no way did I ever think it could be an eagle on Revere Beach. It was mind-boggling. When I saw it, I couldn’t tell people fast enough.”
Kristina Nappi, a Chamberlain Avenue resident and president of the Point of Pines Beach Association, said everyone has spread the word throughout the neighborhood and they even have pictures of it up on their neighborhood website.
The wingspan of the giant bird was estimated to be at least 7 feet long, and perhaps more.
When neighbors first discovered it last Wednesday, one of the first calls was to Mass Audubon, the state’s foremost authority on birds of all kinds. They quickly confirmed from pictures that it was, indeed, a bald eagle. It stayed around at least until Friday or Saturday.
“It is a juvenile bald eagle, which means it was hatched this spring,” said Linda Cocca of Mass Audubon. “They are very large when they leave the nest; it’s a survival mechanism. They are the same size of the adults once they leave the nest…It is exciting, and the pictures were awesome. It was Thursday around noon and, all at once, I must have gotten probably six phone calls and five e-mails asking what this bird might be. I got two more on Monday.”
Cocca said they forwarded the pictures to a state expert, Dr. Tom French, who made some suggestions.
“He believed that it may be a juvenile that has come up from Florida,” she said. “No one is quite sure. Once they are no longer dependent on the adults, they tend to wander far and wide. They’re almost like a toddler that’s learning to walk and is exploring…The fact that it’s on the ground on the beach is almost unbelievable, but again, they’re kind of clueless and just are really exploring.”
Cocca said there are bald eagles thriving in Massachusetts, but most of them are in the central and western part of the state. There is one nest, though, in Newburyport.
“They are making a great comeback,” she said.
Not so long ago, in the 1980s, America’s symbolic bird nearly became extinct due to the use of the DDT pesticide, which had the effect of preventing their eggs from developing correctly. It was quite an embarrassing moment for all at that time.
Since then, a massive effort has been performed to bring eagles back, and it has been working – as evidenced by the rare sighting on Revere Beach.
Eagles aren’t the only things coming back, as the sighting was reinforcement for residents that Revere Beach has also made a tremendous comeback.
“I wanted waterfront property all my life. I never wanted to look at other houses through the windows,” said Piazza. “Then, when I saw how bad it was getting in the 1980s- the waves would crash and they would be brown and it smelled so bad – it was just horrible. Now, that’s all changed. I wouldn’t move out of the Pines for anything. I’m in my own little nest here, and I love it.”