Audubon Florida staff received a report of another auxiliary band resight for 2022! This Bald Eagle originally came to Audubon’s Center for Birds of Prey after being rescued on the front lawn of a busy elementary school in April 2018 after falling from its nest.
“His family was gone by the time he was ready to go back into the wild in June 2018, so he was released on property near the Mission Inn Resort with another fledgling that was rescued nearby,” explains Shawnlei Breeding, Program Manager for Audubon EagleWatch.
He was banded with a green band marked “K/20” so he could be recognized in the future, and just a month after his release, he was resighted in a backyard in West Virginia. He wasn’t seen again until March 2022, when photographer Ken Rohling saw K/20, then four years old, at the Citrus County Landfill, its bands clearly visible in photographs.
As part of a long-term cooperative study through the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey, all rescued Bald Eagle fledglings treated by its Raptor Trauma Clinic receive a colored auxiliary leg band before release. The color designates the type of nest they came from: green bands for natural nests and black bands for nests on man-made structures. Audubon’s goal is to learn if the type of nest structure an eagle hatches in influences the type of nest structure it chooses as a breeding adult.
Since 2017, Audubon has banded and released 86 fledgling Bald Eagles as part of this ongoing study. Each eagle that is rescued and released gets a second chance at life and the opportunity to contribute to the future of the wild population. Plus, the information collected when the birds are resighted will help in future management and protections for Bald Eagles in Florida.
“Banding resights like this one bring us one step closer to understanding Bald Eagle nesting habits,” says Breeding. “We depend on community scientists to help us track these majestic birds.”
Thank you to all who were involved in the rescue, treatment, and release of Bald Eagle K/20, as well as Ken Rohling for photographing the bird and reporting it to us.
Have you spotted a banded Bald Eagle? Make note of the band color, alphanumeric code if visible, and which leg the band is on and report this important information to USGS Bird Banding at reportband.gov. This data helps researchers track longevity, migratory habits, habitat usage, and other vital population parameters.
This story was published in the Summer issue of Audubon Naturalist.