Posted by: rlukei | 2014/03/26

Dr. Mitchell A. Byrd – Bald Eagle Recovery

Read about the recovery of the American Bald Eagle and the role of Dr. Mitchell A.Byrd on the science web site Live Science at the link below.

Posted by: rlukei | 2014/02/28

Urbanized Bald Eagle

A small portion of the population of bald eagles, perhaps 5 percent, are considered to have habitated to our human environment with all its sounds and activities.  Donald and Lillian Stokes in their book A Guide To Bird Behavior Volume III write “Unlike the Osprey, which tolerates human presence, the bald eagle demands more isolation from human activity”. Dr. Paul A. Johnsgard in his book Hawks, Eagles & Falcons of North America states “freedom from human disturbance is usually an important but highly variable factor”. These days the word “variable” is key.

The portion of the bald eagle population that has become “urbanized” is expanding. The bald eagle nestlings that are growing up in nests in peoples backyards, public parks, golf courses and other human occupied locations peer out of their nests viewing all our human activities and the sounds we make. When they fledge from their nests they are acclimated to these sounds, sights, and noises and do not shy away from our human locations. Take for example the bald eagle named Camellia who was fitted with a satellite transmitter at his nest at Norfolk Botanical Garden and fledged  May 27, 2010. Camellia has spent the vast majority of his time since then in human occupied areas like residential neighborhoods and golf courses  – where Camellia is now in Virginia Beach, VA (

On Feburary 27, 2014,  I was driving toward the Honey Bee Golf Course in Virginia Beach to check on another Norfolk Botanical Garden raised bald eagle named HK, because of the purple band on his left leg. HK has built a nest on the golf course. The nest tree is less than 100 feet from a private house and 20 feet from a public road. Before I got to the golf course I saw yet another sign that bald eagles have habituated to our human environment - a bald eagle sitting atop a highway light over South Independence Blvd at the entrance to a Target store. I did a u-turn, pulled into a parking space and took the attached photographs as the bald eagle sat there for another 15 minutes with cars, trucks, motorcycles and school busses passing directly below.

Photographs copyright Reese F Lukei Jr

Bald Eagle Lightpole SX 02272014 013Bald Eagle Lightpole SX 02272014 018Bald Eagle Lightpole SX 02272014 021 Bald Eagle Lightpole 02272014 038 (2)

So, just who is purple banded bald eagle KS? She hatched in a nest in the Thoroughgood neighborhood in Virginia Beach in March 2011 and fledged the first couple days of June 2011. On June 4 she was sitting on the ground about two blocks from her nest and it was assumed by a neighbor that she was injured and she called for rescuers. The juvenile flew into a patch of woods but was captured by these “rescuers”. Fortunately for the young eagle Lisa Barlow, a licensed wildlife rehabilator, arrived and took the eagle away from the rescuers. The eagle was taken to a veterinarian with wildlife experience who found a couple minor injuries, but none that would prohibit release of the eagle. On June 5 the eagle was banded with purple band KS and and released at a large open athletic field near its nest. The juvenile however, had undetected injuries that would not allow the eagle to gain elevation. Lisa was to keep the eagle for a few more days to give it time to recover from its capture and attempted release. A few days later its tail feathers began to fall out and the eagle was transferred to the Wildlife Center of Virginia. By late August new tail feathers had grown in and it was determined by WCV staff that it was time for the eagle to be released. On August 30, 2011 KS and Norfolk Botanical Garden eagle with purple band NX were transported to Berkeley Plantation on the James River and successfully released.

NX is heard from on a regular basis because she is wearing a transmitter and her movements are reported on the WCV web site ( However, nothing has been seen or heard from KS until yesterday January 9, 2014 when she was located perched on a transmission tower next to purple banded HK who is from the 2009 nest at Norfolk Botanical Garden, and who has built a nest on Honey Bee Golf Course about 3 blocks from the transmission tower. The three attached photos of KS  were taken by Beverly Nettleton whose sharp eyes spotted her on the transmission tower. Photo of KS on fence just prior to her attempted release by Reese F Lukei Jr. All photos are copyright of the photographer.

IMG_3702 (2)IMG_3699 Bev Nettleton Jan 9 2014IMG_3711 Nettleton Jan 9 2014Eagle Release 06052011 074

During late November and early December I traveled to Botswana in southern Africa to see for myself some of the amazing wildlife so often seen in TV programs. I had no idea that I would contribute to two ongoing research projects while there.

On November 27 on my first full day in the Kalahari Plains Central Camp while on a game drive in a Land Rover, we saw some Lappet-faced and White-headed Vultures rising into a thermal. I took several photos and later when back in camp and reviewing the photos I discovered that two of the Lappet-faced Vultures (a threatened specie) were fitted with wing tags – #White 24 and #White L1. I have learned that these two vultures were also fitted with transmitters by a PhD candidate, Rebecca Garbett, who has been conducting research with Dr Glyn Maude at Kalahari Research and Conservation (KRC). The two Lappet-faced vultures are numbers 128501 and 128504. Refer to the attached map and two photos.

Botswana Vultures map 131218botsvultBotswana 1 525Botswana 1 528

On December 2 while on a game drive in a Land Rover at Chitabe Camp in the Okavango Delta we saw an Impala with her newborn fawn. After a few photos we drove on and immediately came upon a pack of eight African Wild Dogs, two of which were wearing tracking collars. The Wild Dogs soon sensed the baby Impala and captured it. After returning home, I did some internet research to find out who may have fitted the collars on the Wild Dogs. They were fitted with collars by Dr J W McNutt, Director of Botswana Predator Conservation Trust. In his email response he states “Thank you for sending some of your photos of collared dogs in Chitabe. It is particularily useful to get some of these photos and reports because the collar that the male is wearing went quite about 2 months ago when the pack was on the cattle side of the Veterinary Fence that separates wildlife areas from livestock. We had feared the pack might have been targeted by local livestock farmers and the collar destroyed. We are very happy to learn from the Chitabe report that the pack is doing quite well, in fact. I will be spending the next few weeks trying to catch up with these dogs in order to remove the expired radio collars and replace them with new collars.”

Botswana 4 077Botswana 4 087

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/12/13

CCB Bald Eagle Tracking Success

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFairlee_on_Aberdeen_Proving_Ground_Bart_RobertsFairlee_with_Friend_Bart_RobertsMap_of_Fairlee_movements

Tracked eagles continue to blaze trail for conservation

By Bryan Watts

Like a good investment, the cohort of CCB eagles fitted with satellite 
transmitters between 2007 and 2009 continue to generate impressive dividends.  
The cohort has now generated well over 1,000,000 GPS locations that are being 
used to improve management techniques for the species.

In November, CCB was awarded a grant from the American Eagle Foundation to 
establish a National Bald Eagle Roost Registry.  Although communal roosts are 
protected by federal law regulations have only rarely been implemented due to 
the lack of information on their location.  Among other sources, the tracking 
data set will be used to delineate a large number of communal roosts to begin 
populating the registry.

Also to begin in the new year, CCB will be working with federal and NGO partners 
to delineate eagle movement corridors throughout the Northeast that will be used 
in the siting of wind turbines.  One of the most important considerations in 
reducing the likelihood that a hazard will impact wildlife is location, 
location, location.  For birds, understanding how they move through the region 
is critical to reducing mortality.

The cohort of eagles being tracked by CCB contains a number of individuals that 
have made regular movements between the Chesapeake Bay and the north.  One such 
individual named Fairlee on the tracking website ( has 
made multiple trips between a summering area on the St. Lawrence Seaway and 
wintering area on the Chesapeake Bay.  Collectively, these birds allow for the 
delineation of major movement corridors that should be considered when planning 
commercial wind farms.

Photo captions

Fairlee, an eagle being tracked by CCB as part of a movement study was 
photographed during a snow on Aberdeen Proving Ground last Sunday (12/8/13).  
Photo by Bart Roberts.

Fairlee as a nestling after being fitted with a satellite transmitter on 
Aberdeen Proving Ground.  Photo by Craig Koppie.

Fairlee with friend on Aberdeen Proving Ground.  Photo by Bart Roberts.

Map of migrations made by Fairlee between winter grounds on the Chesapeake Bay 
and summer grounds along the St. Lawrence Seaway.


Libby Mojica (second from left) instructs other researchers how to design and make transmitter harnesses for raptors.

Libby Mojica from The Center for Conservation Biology is attending the 2013 annual conference of the Raptor Research Foundation (RRF) in Bariloche, Argentina. The international meeting has attracted researchers from around the world with a large representation from Latin America. The 2013 meeting is being held in the Nahuel Huapi National Park from Oct 21 to 24 and is structured as a joint meeting of RRF ( , the Neotropical Raptor Network and the World Group on Birds of Prey and Owls.

Recognized as an expert in raptor tracking and harness design, Libby gave a pre-meeting workshop on the design, construction, and application of transmitter harnesses for raptors. The workshop was attended by 25 representatives from 12 countries. Later in the meeting, Libby is scheduled to present a paper entitled “Post-dispersal movements and juvenile survival of the solitary crowned eagle in central Argentina” that gives an overview of early results from CCB’s collaborative tracking project.


Posted by: rlukei | 2013/09/16

CCB Launches New and Improved Eagle Nest Locator

One of the central missions of The Center for Conservation Biology is to provide information needed by regulatory agencies and the public to enable responsible land-use decisions. Since 2009, CCB has provided bald eagle survey results within an online Google mapping application. This application provides information to regulatory agencies and permit applicants needed to assess potential impacts of construction projects to eagles and allows the public to explore eagle distribution in Virginia. Since its initial launch, the online eagle nest locator has become central to the environmental review process. During 2012 the site was visited more that 40,000 times by regulatory agencies and the public. Access to survey information is changing business and benefiting eagles.

The new Virginia Bald Eagle Nest Locator has several upgrades that were developed in response to requests received by CCB and represent our attempt to better serve the public. Upgrades include 1) updated data for the 2013 breeding season, 2) addition of 100 and 200-m buffers to assist with land planning relative to national and state management guidelines, 3) a search window for navigation to a GPS coordinate or address, and 4) print capability within the internet browser.

CCB would like to express our appreciation to the public for exploring the nest locator and reporting eagle nests that were previously unknown to us. Marie Pitts ( is managing the nest locator and is happy to receive information on unknown nests, questions, and comments.


Adult eagle on nest PG-11-06 shades small chicks in early March along the Appomatox River. This nest produced 3 chicks in 2013. Photo by Bryan Watts


New features of CCB Virginia bald eagle nest locator

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/09/03

Eagles and CCB on NPR Sept 4


Eagle Recovery To Air On NPR’s Morning Edition September 4, 2013

National Public Radio science correspondent Elizabeth Shogren joined Bryan Watts and Courtney Turrin on a survey of bald eagles along the James River as part of a story focused on recovery. In addition to counting more than 100 eagles the group discussed the dramatic recovery of the species along the historic river and the behavioral shifts that are currently underway as the population approaches its carrying capacity. One of the best examples of eagle recovery on the continent, the James River population has increased from no breeding pairs in the mid-1970s to a record 205 in 2013. The ecological changes associated with this recovery are still unfolding. The story will air on NPR’s Morning Edition on September 4.

Photo Caption

National Public Radio science correspondent Elizabeth Shogren records river sounds while graduate student Courtney Turrin watches for eagles. The two were out on the James River to discuss bald eagle recovery with Bryan Watts. Photo by Bryan Watts.

Posted by: rlukei | 2013/08/29

Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch Association

Dr. Bryan Watts to Address Massachusetts Raptor Enthusiasts

On Friday September 6, 2013 Dr. Bryan Watts, Director of The Center for Conservation Biology, will deliver a keynote address to the annual meeting of the Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch Association. The lecture will focus on the breeding ecology, recovery, and conservation challenges of the Chesapeake Bay bald eagle population. The hawk watch association is a 200-member organization dedicated to the monitoring and conservation of raptor populations. The lecture will be held in Medford, MA (northwest of Boston) and is open to the public. If you would like to attend, visit to find meeting details.

Photo – Dr. Watts holds an adult female trapped in the upper Chesapeake Bay. – Photo bt Bart Paxton


On Monday July 22, 2013 two fishermen discovered an adult bald eagle floating in the James River near The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, VA. They took the bird to a marina where it was then transported to Lisa Barlow, a licensed rehabilator in Virginia Beach and Director of Wildlife Response, Inc. An examination showed that other than being soaking wet, the eagle was not injured. On Tuesday the eagle was measured and banded with purple band KW and USGS band 0679-01383. Measurements indicated the bald eagle is a male and is perhaps the male on the nest on property at Mariners’ Museum. In the afternoon of July 23, 2013 the eagle was released by Lisa Barlow near that nest site in a large open field. The eagle flew perfectly and disapeared into the trees surrounding the field.

Photos below courtesy and copyright of Lisa Barlow


Photos below Copyright Reese F Lukei Jr

Bald Eagle Banding KW 2013 006Bald Eagle Banding KW 2013 008

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