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Golden Eagle Banding

Posted by Mark Sunday, May 22, 2011


I had the opportunity to participate in something very cool yesterday. I have a friend that is a raptor biologists who works all over the state on various projects involving many different species of birds. He works with everything from Spotted owls on the Warm Springs reservation to Bald and Golden eagle nest surveys to the impacts of wind farms on various falcon and hawk species.He is also a licensed to band birds and is one of the few in the state that is allowed to get up close and personal with these majestic birds.He needed to band a Golden Eagle yesterday. Rick invited us to go along and thought it would be a great opportunity for the kids to see the whole process so, my wife and I brought them along.

The nest was situated around 100 feet off the ground up on a cliff and there were two young eagles in the nest. Rick(our biologist friend) has a rock climbing son named Nate who has been helping out his dad since he was 6. An expert climber who is also very knowledgeable on the handling of these large birds. You get onto a thin ledge with a couple of Golden eagles inches away and things can get interesting real fast. You better have your skills in order!Jasper his brother, is also an expert climber and bird handler and was up top as well assisting with the gear and rope set up. It's a family affair for Rick as his wife is also a biologist and his two daughters have helped,held and assisted Rick with hundreds of birds over the years.They would both be at the bottom ready to assist with the documentation and other data that needed to be collected.Anyway,Nate went in above the nest and rappelled down onto the cliff ledge. He quickly banded the smaller bird where it was and put the larger bird in a protective pack and lowered her down the cliff to us.

When I say young eagles,I mean 1 month old birds which are anything but small. These birds are near fully grown with nearly 6ft wingspans already and powerful strength. They just can't fly or know how to use their talons quite yet, a good thing. The talons on even these young birds are truly awesome and bigger than my hand. So,they got a hold of the bird and put a leather hood on her to calm her down while they took some blood,measurements,and attached a leg band and a small satellite receiver to her. The receiver would be used to track her movements and gain valuable territory info. The whole process from start to finish from nest to nest,was only about 30 minutes. The eagle was placed back into the nest next to her sibling and we quickly vacated the premises to avoid bothering the birds further. The kids had a great time and got to see up close one of God's magnificent creations in a way that few ever will.

It was an amazing experience!


My daughter holding the wing of a 1 month old Golden eagle.Rick is holding the bird!


A beautiful bird

Golden eagle talons are truly awesome! Lucky she  doesn't know what she can do with them yet
 



 Nate on the cliff where the nest was,Jasper and Nuca look on.

 Tim, Ricks partner,getting ready to bag this girl up and send her back to the nest

1 Responses to Golden Eagle Banding

  1. Dave Says:
  2. Pretty awesome experience. The beauty and mystery of the creation is truly mind boggling.

    Thanks for sharing.

     

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