This is a blog about Norfolk Botanical Garden banded Bald Eagle "HK," hatched in 2009. The photos and observations are mine unless otherwise indicated.
I hope you enjoy this story of HK's life along a golf course on the North Landing River. Please take a second and leave a comment, they are greatly appreciated.
I was feeling pretty low as lots of stuff is going on in my personal life. I have found that getting out with Nature lifts my spirits, so I took off for the North Landing at Honey Bee. It was after school hours so I drove to Rosemont Forest to look for HK and/or take a walk in their big field. And, as soon as I got out of my car, I spotted him. And then he promptly took off and flew down to the maintenance shed and landed in a tree.
So, of course, back into the car I go and drive over.
Even as cloudy as it was, HK is one beautiful Bald Eagle.
I had just about given up seeing Honey Bee Eagles today. I was in the car and decided to make just one more loop down S.Independence Blvd. And.....there was HK simply sitting up on the tower at the Honey Bee entrance. Although he had his back and tail to me, he was as photogenic as ever, preening and shifting position.
I was pressed for time, so after about 45 minutes I left him in the tower taking care of business at 5PM.
The following account was written by Mary Reid Barrow, correspondent for the Virginian Pilot and published on May 14, 2006. Ms. Barrow has graciously allowed me to republish the rough copy of the article from her files and also the accompanying photos. Article and photos are copyrighted material. Please do not reproduce or download.
Wind tossed Eagle helped back on its talons
A strong wind howled over the baby bald
eagle in its tree top nest at Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge on Knotts
Island recently and then down came baby, cradle and all.
When a refuge law enforcement officer
noticed the nest was gone, Refuge Manager Tim Cooper and Fish and Wildlife
Service volunteer Reese Lukei headed into the marsh to the rescue.
They rode in on a marsh buggy and found
the 600 to 700 pounds of sticks from the big baby cradle lying on the ground –
but no baby. The two fanned out, slogging through the marsh looking for the
“There he was, sitting on a log,” Lukei
The No. 1 option was to try and reunite
the baby with its parents, he added. The baby was just a week or so from
So the eagle went to wildlife rehabilitator
Lisa Barlow for a couple of nights to make sure it had not been hurt in the
fall and to give the refuge time to come up with a substitute nest.
Dominion Virginia Power, experienced in
dealing with osprey platforms and nests, was asked to help and, with refuge
employees, erected an osprey-style nesting platform and box high in the sky
near the fallen home. Cooper and Lukei hoped that the parents, who were hanging
around the nest area, would return to care for their youngster. If not, the
refuge would take over the job of mama and papa eagle.
On homecoming day, the baby eagle in
wildlife rehabilitator Barlow’s arms was so placid, you would never have
believed it had been ousted so rudely from its treetop home and separated from
its parents only two days before.
Almost as big as a full-grown bald eagle,
the sleek brown, speckled-with-white youngster had the formidable beak and
talons of an adult, but it had the demeanor of a baby that had just awakened
from a nap. The eagle, probably a female because it was so large, allowed Lukei
to band its leg with nary an aggressive move.
The banding took place before manager
Cooper took the eagle in his arms and rode in the Virginia Power truck bucket
to take the baby to its new aerie in the sky.
Lukei and a refuge volunteer stayed to
watch after the cars and trucks had left. Almost immediately the mother
returned to the area. She flew over the nest and chased away a red-tailed hawk,
a perceived danger, Lukei said.
The nest was observed throughout the week
during daylight hours. At times both parents could be seen perched on trees
nearby, but it took several days before one actually took a fish to its baby.
Soon after dinner that day, the youngster
was exercising its wings, Lukei said, and it leaped up almost 20 feet. A gust
of wind took the bird to the ground again. But this time, the eagle needed no
rescue. It took off and flew 100 feet high and traveled for about a quarter of
a mile. Since then it has been sighted flying over the refuge.
The big bird is the 16th eagle to have
fledged from the Mackay Island nest since the birds returned there in 1998.
This pair has always chosen to nest in dead trees in the marsh alongside the
refuge impoundments, unlike most bald eagles that nest down in the crook of a
live tree such as a tall pine. In 2003, the Mackay Island nest with eggs was in
a tree that blew down altogether.
The eagle pair has been adopted by Knotts
Island Elementary School second-graders, who have named the female “Liberty,”
and the male, “Justice.” They named this baby “Sterling” for the coin.
the time, they really didn’t know what a sterling silver baby they had.
I stopped by Honey Bee this afternoon. It was cloudy and threatening to rain. I
found HK behind the maintenance shed at 2:36pm. The golf course was packed with golfers, so I didn't expect too much from HK. He flew, naturally. I
relocated him a bit later, in the pouring rain in a cell tower by some
condos adjacent to the golf course. Observation period: One hour. Photos with my back up camera; Canon SX50 HS.
Some absolutely fabulous news! Reese Lukei called me yesterday morning to share the news that our friend, Jim Yanello had photographed the Banded Female's band and a positive ID had been made! Her name is Sterling and Reese had actually rescued her as a nestling at Mackay Island in 2006, after her nest had been blown out of a tree in a storm. Please read the details here: http://www.ccbbirds.org/2014/09/10/introducing-sterling-banded-female-honey-bee-golf-course/
I had discovered and photographed her at Honey Bee on November 28, 2011. I sent a few photos to Reese, taken from the putting green as she sat in a tree and eventually took off.
She has been photographed many times over the last several years with another male eagle and also HK. The photographers have tried very hard to get a read on the entire band number. In fact, Reese, Jim, and I tried as recently as August 23 to get a good read, when we found them both together.
But, finally on Monday, September 9, it happened! I had located her in the tower at the Honey Bee entrance. I messaged Jim to see if he was in the area to let him know. He was and he drove over.
We photographed her together for about 30 minutes. She seemed to be waiting for someone. She preened a lot. Perhaps she had a rendezvous!
When Jim processed his photos, he had some outstanding band shots, which he forwarded to Reese. The number was confirmed by CCB.
I congratulate Jim on his outstanding work on this. Thanks to Jim, we know who the Banded Female is.
I arrived at Honey Bee a little after 2:30 pm and found the Banded Female perched at the entrance. I messaged my friend, Jim Yanello to let him know she was here, if he was in the area, Of course he was, and he drove over. We spent about 30 minutes with her.
Then she flew to a much used tree behind the maintenance shed.
Jim and I chatted for a bit, then we drove over to the maintenance shed. I discovered HK was already there, camouflaged in a tree.
HK flew to another tree, right beside the Banded Female.
The Banded Female in tree next to HK.
Unfortunately, I was not at a good enough angle to get them in the same shot. And after another 20 minutes or so, they both flew and HK gave us a fantastic flyover.
I had not been out at Honey Bee for a while due to my husband's recent surgery. But yesterday I was in the area and armed with a new camera lens. I made my way around various spots in the Honey Bee area looking for HK. The eagle gods were smiling on this overcast day, as I found him fairly easily in the woods across the river from Rosemont Forest Elementary School. HK was perched in one of his regular spots. I got out of my car and zig zagged across the school field towards him. Usually, as soon as I exit my car, HK abruptly takes off but today, he just sat there, looking so much like Dad Norfolk. Then, an off leash dog ran by and HK took flight.