HK Builds His Nest

HK Builds His Nest

Friday, September 26, 2014

HK 9.23.14

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.

Friday, September 19, 2014

HK on the Clubhouse Tower

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.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

HK revisits the cell tower: 9.16.14

I was able to get out for a brief time today and was fortunate to find HK perched on a cell tower where he has been observed many times.  Under a brilliant blue sky, I watched him for about 45 minutes. 

He was looking around and attending to some personal grooming. 

He gave me a quizzical look, then took off.

I was able to determine the letters on his purple band and report his band to the Bird Banding Laboratory.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sterling's Story by Mary Reid Barrow

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 youngster.
“There he was, sitting on a log,” Lukei said.
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 fledging.
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.
At the time, they really didn’t know what a sterling silver baby they had.  
~ Mary Reid Barrow   

Sunday, September 14, 2014

HK on a rainy afternoon: 9.13.14.

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. 

HK at maintenance shed under a gray sky.

HK in a torrential downpour.

 HK starting to dry out after the rain subsides.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Banded Female Has A Name: Meet STERLING!

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:

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.

Hello, Sterling!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

HK and the Banded Female 9.9.14

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.

Monday, September 8, 2014

HK at Rosemont Forest Elementary School 9.7.14

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.

HK from the parking lot

I made it to the fence by the river.

Classic HK pose

An off leash dog ran up and so long HK!