A bald eagle nicknamed "Rover" has been circling, diving and hunting around New York City's Central Park since last weekend, enchanting birders across the city and the internet as videos and pictures of its visit have grabbed local headlines.
Manhattan Bird Alert confirmed to NBC New York that the bird known as "Rover" is identifiable by its R-7 metal ankle tag and previously has been spotted in Brooklyn.
Rover's Sunday evening hunting at the frozen Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir on Jan. 23 immediately made local headlines — but then Rover stuck around.
Birdwatcher and Twitter user Brad Balliet posted a video of Rover taking off from the frozen reservoir and swooping across a sunset backdrop of skyscrapers on Jan. 25.
Manhattan Bird Alert announced several additional sightings of the bird on Thursday Jan. 27, suggesting the bird has spent at least four days in and around Central Park as of publication.
David Barrett, who runs Manhattan Bird Alert, told NBC New York that Rover has been visiting New York City for a few years and suggested that birders eager to see Rover visit Central Park's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis reservoir between 4 p.m. and sunset, when the bird often hunts.
Bald Eagles, America's official national bird, have had a population rebound in recent decades after the phasing out of toxic pesticides like DDT. Between 2009 and 2021 the lower 48 states' population of Haliaeetus leucocephalus quadrupled to over 300,000 following a 1963 low of 417 known nesting pairs.
Their rebound has coincided with widespread availability of remote-controlled drones, and the newly-numerous raptors have occasionally made headlines for snatching the invasive flying robots out of the air in their razor sharp talons.
In 2018 another rare bird enchanted New York's avid birder community, and the internet, when a mysterious and colorful Mandarin duck was seen floating around the reservoir.