Conserve Wildlife Blog

From Lost to Found: E97’s Story

April 5th, 2024

by: Larissa Smith, Senior Biologist

During the 2020 NJ Bald Eagle nesting season the Camden B pair hatched and raised two chicks. This nest was located along the Cooper River, in Camden County on a small parcel of undeveloped land in a very urban area.

Camden B eagle nest with 6 week old chicks May 14, 2020: photo by: Marilyn Henry

On June 5, we received notification that the nest had fallen from the tree during a storm, at that time the two chicks were approximately nine weeks old. They were too young to fly since eagle don’t fledge until at least 11 weeks of age. At nine weeks of age they are the size of an adult eagle so they would be noticeable on the ground. Despite an extensive search by staff and volunteers there were no signs of the two nestlings.

Fallen Camden B nest, June 8, 2020

Local wildlife rehab centers were notified in case the young eagles were found and brought in for care. At that point we could only speculate on their fate. Then on June 28, NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife Law Enforcement was alerted to eagles being held in a dog pen at a residence in Camden. NJDFW Conservation Officers visited the home and found the two missing eagle chicks. At this point the young eagles were twelve weeks old and should have fledged if they were still in the nest.

Camden eagles in dog pen; June 28th, 2020: photo K. Clark

The eagles had been kept in the basement and fed hotdogs and chicken. Fortunately for the chicks they were moved outside and an alert citizen reported the captive eagles. They were taken to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research for evaluation and treatment. After a week in rehab it was determined that they were healthy enough to be released. By this time the adults were no longer actively in the area of the nest tree. After eagle chicks fledge they still spend a few weeks in the nest area with the adults, learning to survive on their own. It was decided to release the two eagles in a remote area of Cumberland County. On July 9 the two Camden eagles were released at the site.

E/96 & E/97 at release, Diving Creek Cumberland County

Staff and volunteers temporarily provided supplemental food (fish and road-killed mammals). The release area has a large population of juvenile and sub-adult eagles who could provide the social learning the young eagles needed. A trail camera was set up at the food drop. E/97 wasn’t seen again at the release site. Her sibling, E/96 was seen in the area several times after her release.

On March 18th, 2024, Kathy Clark with NJENSP received an email from Jerry amEnde regarding a green banded eagle he photographed at Bombay Hook NWR in Delaware.

The banded eagle was E/97! We are thrilled to know that despite her not having a “traditional” start to her life, she has to survived to become a gorgeous four year old eagle.

E/97 , March 18, 2024: photo by Jerry am Ende

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