MILPITAS (KTVU) -- Two bald eagles have been seen flying in the skies over the South Bay in recent days and the majestic birds have apparently moved into a nest above a Milpitas elementary school.
The presence of the eagles can be attributed to the work by conservationists who have attempted for several years to boost the local natural habitat for the birds. Their efforts are paying off.
Stan Szeto spotted the birds near Curtner Elementary School and has started documenting the exploits of the two eagles.
"I've been here since 1981 and I've never seen a bald eagle in this area before," said Szeto, a parent and a photographer.
The two birds appear to be a mated pair and Szeto started photographing the eagles as they were building a giant nest.
"It's a very overwhelming feeling because many of us don't get to see this kind of stuff really close up," said Ana Rodriguez, a parent.
A toxic pesticide called DDT played a role in eagles being added to the U.S. endangered species list during the 1960s. Wildlife officials said by 1980, all of the eagles south of Shasta Lake had been wiped out.
But biologists say eagles appear to be making a comeback in California thanks to conservation efforts and a federal decision to ban the use of DDT in most cases. Now, officials say there are about 317 eagle nesting sites around the states and 20 actives ones have been identified in the Bay Area.
"It's decades of comeback from the previous DDT days when (eagles) were in abundance (before) they started dropping off because their eggs were too thin," said Ralph Schardt of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society.
Biologists with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, however, say the activity of eagles should still be monitored. That's because the bald eagle is no longer on the federal endangered species list but it has yet to be removed from California's endangered list.
"It will be a constant battle to make sure that the habitat remains," said Terris Kasteen, spokeswoman for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. "So that we create more so that they'll stay."
The Milpitas bald eagles took up residence near the elementary school in January. Experts say their eggs could hatch any day now. Bird watchers and Curtner students have been documenting every moment by the pair of birds.
"One time I got it by luck," said Szeto said. "I actually have a video of the eagles flying right over the kids as they were saying the pledge of allegiance.
"For this little town, it's amazing," a Milpitas resident said.
School officials said they love the eagles but are concerned about the additional traffic bird watchers have brought to the area so they are asking eagle fans to minimize the campus disruptions.
By KTVU reporter Ann Rubin.