Looking for green bands.
by: Larissa Smith, wildlife biologist/volunteer manager
One way we can track eagles is with transmitters which I’ve discussed in previous blogs. Since 2011 three eagle chicks have been outfitted with satellite transmitters to track their movements. Two of the birds have since died. To follow the movements of the third eagle go to http://www.merrillcreek.com/eagletracking.html
Eagle banded C/84 © Peter Stegemann
Another way to track eagles is by banding them. The NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program has been banding eagles with green (NJ specific) bands since 1987. Eagles are banded when they are six weeks of age and get a green NJ band on one leg and a silver federal band on the other. The state band has a letter over a two digit number. The band information is entered into the National Bird Banding Lab database and when someone finds an injured or dead eagle they can report the band. Most of the information that comes in from these bands are from dead or injured birds. The bands tell us when and where the the bird was banded. By using spotting scopes people can sometime see that a bird has green band but many times are unable to read the number. We know that 23 pairs of eagles nesting in New Jersey have at least one bird in the pair that was banded in NJ.
Eagle banded D/64© Justin Pursell
Sometimes we are lucky to get re-sightings from photographers with high powered lenses who can focus in on the band. Just in the past week we’ve gotten three sightings of NJ birds. One eagle has been seen on Long Island with a green band and reported by Peter Stegemann. He has seen this bird all last summer and fall with another eagle and they might be nesting this season. This would be the first pair of eagles to nest on Long Island since DDT wiped out the eagle population. By zooming in on the photo ENSP principal biologist Kathy Clark was able to read the letter and first number as C/8. The second number couldn’t be read but by going through the banding records it was determined that this eagle was banded in 2009 at the Princeton nest.
Eagle banded D/39 © Kristen Nicholas
Another NJ banded bird (D/64) was photographed by Justin Pursell in Schwenksville, PA on April 7th, 2013. The eagle hasa nest in the area. The bird was banded May 10, 2004 at the Hopewell West nest in Cumberland County. Kristen Nicholas took a photo of a third year NJ banded bird at Lake Tappan Northern NJ/Lower NY on March 20, 2013. The green band is D/39 a third year male which was banded in 2011 at the Oradell Reservoir in Bergen County NJ.
While it’s great to get re-sightings of NJ banded birds we don’t want to get them at the expense of the eagles. These photos were taken by photographers with high powered lenses. People should view eagles from a safe distance so as not to disturb them, especially when they are nesting. Disturbance to a nest can cause the eagles to abandon the eggs/young or cause the young to prematurely jump from the nest.
To report a banded eagle please contact Larissa Smith Larissa.Smith@conservewildlifenj.org