Faces have been pressed against the windows at the Great Neck South School campus — two bald eagles have been spotted on the grounds.
A nest first appeared about three weeks ago, along with one male and one female eagle, according to John Powell, the school district’s assistant superintendent for business.
Bald eagles are not often spotted on Long Island.
“It’s created quite a stir here,” Powell said by phone on Thursday. “One of the eagles is perched on a branch right now, so everyone in our department is looking out the window right now.”
The nest is high up in a tree, according to Powell, and students and staff have not interacted with the eagles, in keeping with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s guidelines on the treatment of bald eagles. During breeding season, which runs roughly from February through April, eagles must be given a 330-foot buffer zone, according to the guideline. For the safety of the birds and students, Powell asked that members of the public not come to the campus, which is home to both the high school and middle school, to see the eagles.
t“We’ve had to send out a directive that nobody is to go near the site and to do as little as possible to disturb their habitat,” he said.
The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act forbids harassing, disturbing or injuring bald eagles, which are a threatened species. Tampering with their nests is also prohibited. Violations of the law are punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Bald eagles primarily eat fish, according to the Minnesota-based National Eagle Center. To find fish, the birds tend to nest in areas close to water. Lake Success is across the street from the campus.
“For someone who has never seen an eagle, it’s really a wow,” said National Eagle Center associate director Eileen Hanson. “It takes your breath away. They’re much bigger than you’d think. And because it’s a national symbol, it can be really inspiring.”
Only one other mid-size to large bird has been spotted at the Great Neck South campus in recent memory.
“We had a hawk here a couple of years ago,” Powell said.
But because the bald eagles have already built a nest, Hanson believes they could be here to stay between their fall migrations.
“If this is the first year they’ve spent time building it,” she said, “and if they are successful here, very likely they’ll keep coming back year after year.”