Muskegon residents may be forgiven if they think they’re in Bodega Bay, the setting of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 film “The Birds.”

According to social media posts, Muskegon’s bald eagle population is witnessing what appears to be a boom.

“I ended up seeing no less than 10 eagles flying around the Mona Lake area yesterday!” Joseph Longcore wrote on the Muskegon County Airport Facebook page. “They were pretty much everywhere. Saw a pair of red tailed hawks as well! It sure was busy!”

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On Wednesday, Muskegon County Airport posted on its social media site that it had counted 19 eagles. Another picture in the post shows 11 eagles.

Another picture posted on Facebook shows a convocation of 13 eagles in one tree:


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Theories abound as to why the once-considered nearly extinct species is showing up in droves in Muskegon.

One Facebook poster credited the weather.

“Given the relatively mild winter we probably shouldn’t be too surprised by this. Those birds are looking for food in any location,” he said.

Another suggested it was migration season for the birds, while another individual suggested it was mating season.

Brandon M. Armstrong is an aquatic biology specialist with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, or, coincidentally, EGLE for short.

In an email to The Midwesterner, Armstrong explained that the increased number of eagles in Michigan stems from good environmental news.

“In general, contaminant concentrations, particularly PCBs and DDT, in our bald eagles have been declining and thus the eagle population as a whole has rebounded,” he said. “I know there is some concern over the recent avian influenza outbreak and its impacts on wild birds, including bald eagles.”

A WOODTV report last July cited Michigan Department of Natural Resources data, claiming there were 900 mating pairs of eagles in Michigan.

“That number is way up from past surveys — 359 confirmed breeding pairs in 2000 and 83 in 1980 — and far away from where the bird stood in the 1950s and 60s. In 1963, federal authorities estimated there were only 417 nesting pairs of bald eagles across the entire continental United States,” according to the story.

Bridge Michigan reported last July that there were only 52 breeding pairs of eagles in 1961.

That population has rebounded, however, prompting the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove the species from its Endangered and Threatened Species List in 2007.

“[I]n 2007, we estimated there were at least 9,789 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States,” the Service’s website notes. “Bald eagles staged a remarkable population rebound and recovered to the point that they no longer needed the protection of the Endangered Species Act. On June 28, 2007, we announced the recovery of our nation’s symbol and removal from the list of threatened and endangered species.”

As it turns out, Muskegon isn’t the only locale with a growing eagle population. Nationwide, the number of eagles is soaring.

“Bald eagle populations throughout the country have continued to rise with an estimated population of 72,434 individuals, including 30,548 breeding pairs, in 2009 in the lower 48 states,” the USFWS reported. “Estimates for the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states, based on data from 2018 to 2019, total 316,700 individuals, including 71,467 breeding pairs.”