APRIL 29, 2015

Lake Pleasant bald eagle nestlings gain new accessories

ID bands will provide biologists with years of information

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eagle nestlingPHOENIX – Two five-week-old bald eagle nestlings from Lake Pleasant are sporting new ID bands now thanks to Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists’ management efforts.

Biologists rappelled down to the cliff nest and hoisted the nestlings to the ground using special equipment to protect the birds during handling. Once on the ground, the young eagles received both a state and federal identification band and received a full health assessment. Data collected during the assessment is used to help better understand Arizona’s bald eagle population, which has grown from 11 breeding pairs in the 1970s to 55 this year.

“This one handling of the birds will provide years of data that can tell us more about their migrations, breeding patterns and other habits,” says Kenneth Jacobson, head of the Arizona Game and Fish Department Bald Eagle Management Program. “We hope we’ll see these young birds back in this area in about five years when they are of breeding age, and the only way we can know for sure is to identify them by their bands.”

The adult parents circled nearby and eventually settled on a perch overlooking the nestlings.
“The adults typically return to the nest to check on their young as soon as the group leaves the area,” said Jacobson. “We’ve never had a problem with the adults tending to their nestlings after we’ve handled them.”

The department also used the banding as an opportunity to incorporate student learning as part of its Homeschool Program. Six homeschool students and two teachers spent the morning learning more about bald eagles, biology and wildlife management.

Successfully removed from the federal Endangered Species Act, the state has a record number of bald eagle breeding areas this year. The bald eagle remains federally protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

The department manages the bald eagle as part of the Southwestern Bald Eagle Management Committee (SWBEMC), a broad coalition of 24 government agencies, private organizations and Native American tribes.

For more information on Arizona’s bald eagles, visit www.azgfd.gov/baldeagle or www.swbemc.org.