Eaglet Released by AEF Spotted in Pennsylvania Near Lake Erie
Slideshow photos by Jimmie Marz and Gale VerHague
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Spotting a former Dollywood resident so far from home is not quite so unusual unless it just happens to be one of the majestic Bald Eaglets hatched at the theme park’s American Eagle Foundation (AEF) facility in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
The welcomed surprise and discovery was made by two different photographers, one in Pennsylvania and one in New York, who recently captured photos of an eaglet named ‘Sergeant.’
The eaglet was seen soaring above Lake Erie near Erie, PA by Jimmie Marz on Aug. 23 and perching in a tree on the shore of Lake Erie near Dunkirk, NY by Gale VerHague on Sept. 18.
The bird was named by Clara Anderson of Pennsylvania, who was declared the winner of the eagle conservation group’s annual ‘Name An Eaglet Contest’ (www.eagles.org).
“I was shooting photos at Elk Creek on Lake Erie, 90 miles east of Cleveland Ohio,” said Marz. “This is one of the great steelhead fishing areas in the world along 12 miles of shoreline, and the eagles sit on cliffs, waiting for fishermen to return unwanted fish or fish that have gotten away. The eagles then fly out and pick them up.”
Marz said the bird’s ‘B-9’ marker on its wing made it one of the easiest to spot.
“I was shooting photos approximately six miles east of the City of Dunkirk, New York on Lake Erie,” said Gale VerHague of Forestville, New York. “It was perched in a tree. So, I searched the Internet and found the AEF’s website to find some information about this bird.
“Mr. Marz’s and Ms. VerHague’s discovery of our eaglet approximately one month apart and doing well in the wild was welcome news to our staff,” said AEF President Al Cecere. “Once released, these young eagles face so many threats and obstacles that may affect their survival, including gunshots, motor vehicles, traps and toxins. To know that Sergeant has successfully traveled so far north in just four weeks is a real comfort to us. We’re always pleased to learn that one of our hatchlngs has been spotted and is doing well in nature.”
‘Sergeant’ was hatched in captivity on May 13, 2009 at Dollywood’s Eagle Mountain Sanctuary operated by the AEF, and was one of three eaglets produced by non-releasable breeding pair Bonispae and Franklin this year.
Released by the American Eagle Foundation on August 3, 2009 from the organization’s Douglas Lake hack tower (artificial nest) at approximately 12 weeks of age (fully grown), ‘Sergeant’ was identified both times by a green and orange patagial tag labeled ‘B-9’ worn by the bird. The tag is used by the AEF and wildlife officials to track the bird’s progress once released into the wild. Similar tags have been used by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for more than 20 years to track eagles hacked since the early 1980’s. Such devices allow researchers to more easily identify a bird from a distance. According to AEF officials, the tag will eventually become detached from the animal over time or be removed by the bird itself.
The American Eagle Foundation is a non-profit public charity dedicated to the cause of restoring and protecting Bald Eagles to the U.S.A.’s lands, waterways and skies. The organization has a vision of establishing a multi-million dollar “American Eagle Fund’ endowment to help keep America’s eagles flying strong and free for the future. The Foundation is widely recognized as a national leader in Bald Eagle conservation, recovery and public education. Established in 1985, it is dedicated to the care and protection of the Bald Eagle and its habitat. The Foundation has educated millions of people, hatched and released dozens of eaglets into the wild, and rehabilitated numerous injured eagles and other birds of prey. The AEF, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and their partners have released 326 Bald Eaglets in Tennessee over the last 30 years of 1980 through 2009. The AEF will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2010.
For more information about the American Eagle Foundation and the ‘B-9’ bald eaglet, including photos and video B-roll, please contact Al Cecere at 865-256-0372 or email@example.com.
Photos Courtesy Jimmy Marz, Erie, Pa and American Eagle Foundation, Pigeon Forge, TN.