On May 18, 2014, three members of the CHC, all with expertise in other raptor worlds, met and worked with several different organizations to band a wild nestling golden eagle in the eastern edge of Highlands Ranch. Not only was it a highly successful, multi-agency collaboration, but it also perfectly demonstrates how falconers can lend our expertise to others for research.
One of the CHC falconers was a federally-licensed raptor bander, and was familiar with a historic golden eagle nest on Wildcat Mountain, having worked as a firefighter and paramedic throughout the Highlands Ranch area for years. Working with the lead biologist for the Highlands Ranch Community Association Backcountry Wilderness Area, and Douglas County Search and Rescue, our members coordinated an expedition up to the cliff to band the eaglet at approximately one month of age.
Another CHC member with eagle-handling experience repelled down the cliff to remove the baby and send her up a short distance to the crew up on top of the cliff, while a third falconer answered questions about golden eagle natural history and raptor biology for various country and city officials who had gathered to record and witness the event.
The nest, center of photo, with the male eagle on the cliff face to the right. Photo Dennis Price
A close-up of the female brooding the eaglet on the nest. Photo Dennis Price
The 10-14 day old eaglet in the nest, May 1st. Photo Anne Price
Part of the banding crew approaching the cliff from the east. Photo Mark Giebel
Signage at one of the three trees closest to the cliff edge. Photo Anne Price
The mother eagle flushes off the nest. L to R: Zach (DCSR,) Tony Head, Mark Giebel. Photo Peter Reshetniak
CSR assists Anne Price as she begins her descent down the cliff. Photo Peter Reshetniak
The female soaring overhead. Photo Mark Giebel
The eagle nest, lined with fresh evergreens, shredded yucca fiber in the “cup” and the remnants of prairie dogs and cottontail rabbits. Photo Anne Price
Bill with DCSR has just hauled up the eaglet, which Anne placed in the striped bag at the nest. Tony is about to take the eaglet to be banded. Photo Mark Giebel
Precious cargo: Tony removes the eaglet from the bag. Photo Mark Giebel
The band before being placed on the eaglet’s left leg. Photo Mark Giebel
Tony examines the eaglet before preparing to band it.
Fitting the band to the eaglet’s leg. Based on the size of the tarsus and weight (estimated at 3-3.5 lbs), Tony believes the eyass is a female. Photo Mark Giebel
REF Director Marie Bolster assisted Tony Head in making final adjustments to the rivet, then the band was fastened to the eaglet’s leg. Photo Peter Reshetniak
Meanwhile, Anne remained at the cliff examining the nest, while the eaglet was banded. Photo Mark Giebel
How many people does it take to band a golden eagle?
Back Row L-R: Mark Giebel, Zach (DCSR), Tony Head, Paul (DCSR), Deanna Curtis, Anne Price, Maura Bishop (HRCA), Jamie Noebel (HRCA).
Front Row L-R: Peter Reshetniak (REF), Marie Bolster (REF), Bill (DCSR), Wes (DCSR)
Eaglet Photo Mark Giebel
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