The fitting of the eaglet at the Norfolk Botanical Garden went as planned this morning. Eaglet #2 (readable band HH) was selected for this procedure. This bird was the largest of the eaglets. When these three chicks were banded the sex of this bird was not known as its measurements fell between those for males & females. At this stage of its growth however - it was easy for biologists to determine that bird was in fact a female. Dr. Bryan Watt removed the chick from the nest, assisted by climbers from Nuckols Tree Care. While in the nest Dr Watts was also able to determine that one of the eaglets previously identified as a male (readable band HE) was in fact female.
The bird was lowered to the ground where Libby Mojica (CCB Biologist) fitted the transmitter to the eaglet's back. The transmitter was attached using soft teflon cloth straps. These allow the bird its full range of motion and won't interfere with its ability to learn to fly (or anything else eagle-like). During the procedure the bird was hooded, a technique used by falconers for thousands of years. This keeps the bird calm, in fact the eaglet dozed off during the procedure.
In the interest of reducing the amount of time the eaglet was out of the nest no additional measurements were taken during the procedure.
As expected the adults circled overhead during the procedure. Once returned to the nest neither HH nor its siblings seemed concerned by the transmitter and resumed their typical routine.
All three chicks looked healthy and well fed. The development of flight feathers is nearly complete - and these birds look much different from the downy gray chicks we saw when they were banded.
This transmitter will allow researchers (and the public) to follow the movements of the eagle once it leaves the nest. This will provide important information about the movement and habitat use of bald
eagles - information that is vital to their conservation. For more information about tracking this bird visit http://www.ccb-wm.org/eagletrak/
Photos courtesy of the Norfolk Botanical Garden