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Posts Tagged ‘bald eagle’

Green Bands: Telling the Story of New Jersey Eagles

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

January 2015 is the Month of the Eagle! CWF is kicking off the new year by celebrating all things eagle. Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on these amazing raptors from our own eagle biologist Larissa Smith. Larissa, a wildlife biologist who has been working for Conserve Wildlife Foundation since 2000, coordinates the New Jersey Bald Eagle Monitoring Project.

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager


During the Month of the Eagle, we have discussed at length the use of telemetry to see the daily movements of eagles in the state. Another method that biologists use to obtain information on New Jersey eagles is from Re-Sighting New Jersey Eagles. Biologists look for the bands on the re-sighted eagles to find out the age of the bird and the nest that it came from.

 

In June 2014, we learned about a banded New Jersey Eagle Nesting in PA. Unfortunately, the pair lost its chicks during a wind storm last April. I recently contacted Linda Oughton, the nest observer, and she reports that the pair has been busy bringing sticks to the nest in preparation for the upcoming nesting season. We wish “Jersey Girl” and her mate a successful year!

 

NJ  eagle bands (green) and federal eagle bands (silver)

NJ eagle bands (green) and federal eagle bands (silver)

Biologists also obtain information about New Jersey eagles from bands when eagles are recovered injured or dead. This isn’t as “feel good” as the re-sighting of a living, healthy bird, but the band still contains valuable information about the eagle’s age and the nest from which it originated.

 

If you find a bird with a New Jersey band, please report it to the National Bird Banding Lab.

 

The Banding Lab notifies New Jersey biologists when a band has been reported. The majority of recovered New Jersey birds are found in our state, but Jersey banded eagles have also been recovered in Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Maine.  Each band that is found tells a story about the eagles life.

 

  • On April, 26, 2013, a female eagle was found dead at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. She was banded with a red band which revealed that she was one of the eagles from the Dividing Creek Hack site* in 1988, making her 25 years old when she died. The nest observer at the Aberdeen believes that this was the female she observed nesting at Aberdeen for 20 years. At the time of the eagle’s death, there were three chicks in the nest and the male was able to successfully raise them by himself. She is the oldest New Jersey banded eagle that has been recovered.
  • In the fall of 2013, the remains of an eagle with a red band were found in the Nantuxent Wildlife Management Area. The bird was 24 years old. The eagle had been brought along with another eaglet from Canada after their nest was lost. They were placed in the Tuckahoe Hack site* and fledged in 1989.

    *The New Jersey eagle hacking project was started in 1983 as a part of the eagle restoration efforts.  Young eagles approximately six weeks of age were brought from Canada where the eagle population was stable. Hacking towers were built at two sites, Dividing Creek, Cumberland County and Tuckahoe, Cape May County. The chicks were placed in the towers and provided food until the time of fledging. The idea was that the birds, when mature, would return to their place of fledging to nest. These hacked eagles were banded with a red band. Sixty young birds were fledged from these hacking towers over an eight year period contributing to the increase in the New Jersey eagle population.

  •  A thirteen year old eagle was recovered in November of 2011 in Delaware, the cause of death was determined to be lead poisoning. The bird had been banded on May 14, 1999 in Cumberland County. What makes this eagle so special is that in 2003 the same bird was found in Cape May County with a leg hold trap attached to its foot. The foot was amputated and the bird was released. It is amazing to know that this eagle survived for eight years with just one foot!
  • The Duke Farms Eagle Cam is has gained a large online following, so it was sad news when one of the juveniles from the 2014 nest was found dead in Maine this past August.  From talking with the finders of the bird we were able to piece together the story of D-98.

These are just a few examples of the recoveries of dead eagles, but there are also many injured eagles that are cared for by dedicated wildlife rehabilitators and released back into the wild.

C/45 in recovery at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, DE

C/45 in recovery at Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, DE

A New Jersey banded eagle was rescued from the Chesapeake Bay by a fisherman from Cecil County, Maryland on March 17th, 2013. The male had been banded at the Union Lake nest, Cumberland County on May 15, 2007 making him six years old.

 

The eagle was taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Delaware where he recovered from his injuries, believe to be from a territorial dispute with another eagle, and was released on May 6, 2013.

 

All eagle recoveries are listed in each years annual eagle report.

 

Learn more:

 

 

Soaring High: A Month Long Celebration of the Eagle’s All-American Comeback

Friday, January 9th, 2015

Happy New Year from Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey! January 2015 is the Month of the Eagle! CWF is kicking off the new year by celebrating all things eagle. Follow us on social media and be sure to check your email (sign up for our list) for weekly stories on these amazing raptors from our own eagle biologist Larissa Smith. Larissa, a wildlife biologist who has been working for Conserve Wildlife Foundation since 2000, coordinates the New Jersey Bald Eagle Monitoring Project. This month, she will involve 80 volunteers in the monitoring of 175 territorial eagle pairs in New Jersey!

By: Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist and Volunteer Manager

Shark River eagle pair preparing nest @ Tom McKelvey

Shark River eagle pair preparing nest @ Tom McKelvey

 

Why is January the Month of the Eagle? Besides the fact that eagles are an awesome way to start out the new year, now is the best time of year to see eagles in New Jersey, and it’s the month when New Jersey bald eagles start laying their eggs.

 

The New Jersey bald eagle population is increasing every year. 2014 was a record setting nesting season with 156 eagle nests being monitored! One hundred forty-six of these were active (with eggs) and ten were territorial or housekeeping pairs. In 2014, New Jersey nesting eagles broke the 200 mark and produced 201 young! The 2014 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report has more details on the 2014 nesting season.

 

During the months of January and February, not only are New Jersey’s nesting eagles around but wintering eagles are also in the area. Eagle pairs are busy preparing their nests for the 2015 nesting season. The majority of eagles begin incubation in February, but a handful do start in January. Last year, the first New Jersey pair began incubating on January 12th.  In January and February, birds from more northern states come down to New Jersey where the winters are milder. The Delaware Bay and River are rarely frozen solid, allowing birds to continue finding food during the winter months.

 

The two counties in New Jersey with the largest number of eagle nests are Cumberland and Salem, so these are good areas to spot wintering eagles. Mannington Meadows in Salem County is a hot spot for eagle viewing, Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Atlantic County and the Delaware Water Gap in northern New Jersey. This time of year you could spot an eagle in any county in New Jersey!

3rd year eagle @ Kristen Nicholas.  Immature eagles plumage is variable before reaching adult hood

3rd year eagle @ Kristen Nicholas. Immature eagles plumage is variable before reaching adult hood

 

Don’t forget when eagle watching, eagles don’t have a full white head and white tail until around five years of age when they are mature. In their first four years, they can be a bit trickier to spot since their feather coloration is varied at different age stages. Please remember to respect the eagles when viewing them. Eagles are very sensitive to human disturbance during the nesting season, keep your distance from eagle nests and perched eagles. For more information on being a good eagle watcher see our brochure “Bald Eagles Nesting in New Jersey.”

 

Duke Farm eagle pair work on their nest December 30, 2014

Duke Farm eagle pair work on their nest December 30, 2014

Even if you’re not able to get out to see an eagle, you can watch them from the comfort of your home. Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with Duke Farms to broadcast a live Eagle Cam.  This gives everyone the opportunity to see a pair of New Jersey eagles raise their young and learn about eagle behavior. There is also an interactive page where Eagle Cam viewers can post comments, observations and ask questions.

 

As you can see, January is a busy month for New Jersey eagles!  We’ll keep you updated as the month progresses and detail some of our current projects such as using telemetry to track eagles. Stay tuned for more Month of the Eagle posts!

 

 

Eagle Battles In New Jersey

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Wildlife Blogger Jim from Readings From The Northside was lucky enough to witness two bald eagles fighting over a deceased duck. He captured their battle on film and describes what he saw on his blog Readings From The Northside.

As the numbers of eagles increase in New Jersey, these type of disputes are becoming more common place. Eagles not only fight over food but territory as well. Several eagles have been found deceased or injured this past year due to conflicts with other eagles.

Learn more about Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Eagle Project.

Eagles fight over duck at LBI @ Readings From the Northside

Eagles fight over duck at LBI @ Readings From the Northside

Eagles lock talons @ Readings From the Northside

Eagles lock talons @ Readings From the Northside

Tracking New Jersey’s Bald Eagles

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
Transmitters attached to juvenile eagles in 2014

by: Larissa Smith, volunteer manager/wildlife biologist

Juvenile male bald eagle (D/95) with GPS transmiter being attached. Kathy Clark/ENSP

Juvenile male bald eagle (D/95) with GPS transmiter being attached. Kathy Clark/ENSP

Since 2011, the NJDFW Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife Foundation have been following the movements of young eagles outfitted with transmitters that have fledged from the Merrill Creek nest in Northern New Jersey. Currently, two eagles are being tracked from the Merrill Creek nest.

During the summer of 2014, two juvenile bald eagles were fitted with a GPS tracking device (a wearable backpack). Biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male) and one from Cumberland County (a female) to be tagged in this telemetry study. The male hatched at a nest near Nacote Creek in Port Republic, and wears a green band with code D/95. The female is from a nest on the Maurice River; she wears color band E/05.

The male, named “Nacote” (D/95) had a transmitter attached at 8.5 weeks of age on May 6, 2014 and on May 22, he first moved away from the nest tree. He remained within about 1/4 mile for more than one week as he learned flying and landing skills. He made a bold northern movement in late July, and was in Canada until mid-October when he started heading south.

Nacote made a stop at Six Flags Great Adventure on December 1!

The female,  named “Millville” (E/05)  was about 8.3 weeks of age when outfitted with the transmitter. The banding date was May 19, and she remained close to the nest until late July, venturing out to Delaware Bay marshes and back in early August. In mid-September she crossed the Delaware River into Delaware and then spent most of September along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland before crossing over to Virginia.

The last location received for Millville was on November 17, 2014. On the 24th, we received a call that she had been found dead by the side of the road in Delaware. A necropsy was performed and cause of death was determined to be from electrocution due to a collision with electric wires.

We are lucky that a passerby stopped and contacted us, so we know what happened to her and were able to get the transmitter back. There is a high mortality rate for first year eagles as they learn to hunt, fly and survive on their own.

An interactive map showing Nacote’s current location can be viewed on our website.  It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up this winter!

 

 

 

Update on Duke Farms Eagle Cam

Monday, August 25th, 2014
Juvenile eagle, D-98 recovered dead in Maine

by Larissa Smith, Wildlife Biologist/Volunteer Manager

Duke Farms eagle chicks in nest after banding on May 14, 2014

Duke Farms eagle chicks in nest after banding on May 14, 2014

On July 27th the juvenile male, D-98, was found dead by residents of Little Sebago Lake in Maine. He was banded at six weeks of age along with his two siblings one male and one female at the Duke Farms eagle nest which was broadcast live online.

His body was found floating in the lake by residents who reported the band numbers to the National Bird Banding Lab. We then received the report that he was found dead and were able to contact the finders for more information. Residents of the lake which is NW of Portland, reported seeing him near an active eagle nest located on the lake. The nest had chicks which had fledged in early July. On July 25th residents reported seeing a juvenile with a green band sitting in a tree near a boat house;

“The youngster had been in a small tree next to our boat house for quite a long time when an adult, carrying a fish, swooped in over the folks sunning on the beach and attacked the young bird. It dropped the fish in the process. The adult flew off leaving the fish and the juvenile behind. Thanks to a cell phone photo, we know that the youngster had the band colors of the later retrieved juvenile”.

While we don’t know for certain we can assume that the juvenile’s death was in some part due to injuries that occurred when it was attacked by the adult.  It is always sad to report on the death of an eagle especially one that hundred’s of Duke Farms eagle cam viewers watched “grow-up”, but it is the reality of life in the wild. The mortality rate for first year eagles is fairly high as they are still learning to hunt and survive on their own.  It is very unusual to receive this much information on the details surrounding an eagles death.  D-98 made an approximately 390 mile trip up to Maine.  He probably found plenty of food at the lake which is why he was hanging around, but ended up in another eagles territory.  Hopefully the remaining two juveniles from the Duke Farms nest have better luck and survive their first year.