MILPITAS (KPIX 5/AP) — Long endangered bald eagles are making a comeback in the San Francisco Bay Area, in a population boom largely the result of environmental protection laws and pesticide restrictions.

At Curtner Elementary School in Milpitas, Mother Nature is swooping in and giving students an up close lesson in ecology and conservation. A pair of bald eagles have made a nest about 50 feet up a redwood tree right in front of the school.

There are now 19 known eagle nesting sites in the Bay Area. Decades of conservation and habitat protection means the bald eagle is now off the endangered species list.

Professional sports photographer Stan Szeto lives around the corner from Curtner Elementary and has been coming everyday for the past two months to shoot the eagles.

Szeto has captured amazing shots of the eagles carrying branches to build the nest, flying home with a fresh kill, and feeding on prey.

“My cousin lives in Alaska and has been telling me to go there all the time for these birds,” said Szeto.

“But now I’ll just go in my backyard and take a look at them there. I don’t need to go to Alaska anymore,” he laughed.

Glenn Stewart with the UC Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group also credited environmental laws with the species’ comeback. “We’re not poisoning them, we’re not shooting these birds anymore, and we’re seeing a recovery the likes of which we never imagined,” said Stewart.

From their nest 100 feet up, the eagles might be incubating eggs, but it’s hard to confirm without looking in the nest itself.

As word of the eagles has gotten out, there have been a steady stream of bird lovers coming by Curtner Elementary. The eagles have been also been providing daily teachable moments for the students.

Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society Executive Director Ralph Schardt said in choosing a home, eagles look for plentiful food, a nice home and a little space.

Records are sparse about bald eagles’ early populations in the Bay Area. An atlas shows a nest in 1915 south of San Francisco was the last evidence of local nesting until the current recovery.

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