Banders, Rehabilitators, Citizen Scientists - Contribute to Bald Eagle Knowledge
On March 5, 2013 an adult bald eagle showed up on the Harrison Mills Bald Eagle nest -- in view of our live streaming cams. On March 10 and thereafter two adult eagles were seen working on the nest. However it wasn't until March 31 that we noticed that the female was banded. A number of our volunteers immediately started to focus in on the band numbers. Nine numbers would be needed to get the records from the central North American band office, the USF&WS in Patuxent, Maryland to track down the history of this bird. Only 4 or 5 numbers could be seen on the facing curve of the band. This could be one of thousands of banded eagles -- but which one? Where did our late arriving female come from before appearing on our cams? This was an interesting challenge to unfold -- or uncurl -- over the next 3 months of the breeding season.
But let me give you the background. This Harrison Mills nest (HM) overlooks the world's largest winter gathering of bald eagles ever witnessed -- I counted 7,362 eagles individually in about 2 square kilometers of the Chehalis Flats, directly to the north and east of this nest on December 18, 2010. Probably well over 10,000 eagles were then present in the 5 kilometer area along the Harrison River that we consider our annual bald eagle winter count area. The eagles were here for one purpose, to gorge on the spawned out carcasses of the 5 species of salmon dominating this river -- Canada's first Salmon Stronghold River. Harrison Mills is the region surrounding the Chehalis Flats, the alluvial fan into the Harrison River which supports Canada's most important complex of spawning salmon which in turn attracts the huge numbers of bald eagles.