Bald Eagle: positive ID for transmitter/antenna bird!!

January 28, 2015 in Bald Eagle

In an email from Tom French at MassWildlfe, Tom summarizes the E7E findings:

You have not been copied on the most recent exchanges regarding the Bald Eagle on the Merrimack River, Lawrence, MA with a PTT transmitter.   I think that we all now agree with Chris Martin’s assessment below that the color band code is E7E formerly on an orange band which has now lost all of its color.  This bird was from Maine after all.

I think the evidence is now fairly strongly pointing to the adult Bald Eagle that has been observed on several occasions over at least the past year on the lower Merrimack River in Massachusetts with a PTT transmitter is E7E from Maine.  Photos by Craig Gibson which include the photo embedded below, ones attached above and others at , when all added together show E7E.

The following records of a banded adult Bald Eagle with a PTT tag seen on the lower Merrimack River between Lawrence and Amesbury, Essex Co. probably all refer to this bird.

01-02-13, Lawrence – Robbie Valcourt

  1. 12-~18-13, Lawrence – Doug Fernandes
  2. 03-09-14, Salisbury – Jack Dorsey
  3. 01-07-15, Lawrence/N. Andover – Craig Gibson & Doug Fernandes
  4. 01-13-15, Lawrence – Craig Gibson
  5. 01-22-15, Lawrence – Craig Gibson
  6. 01-28-15, Lawrence – Craig Gibson

Here are excerpts from two previous emails from Charlie Todd and Bill Hanson that provide some background on this bird, as well as Chris Martin’s assessment from this morning.


On Jan 10, 2015, at 7:30 PM, Todd, Charlie <> wrote:

A few of our orange anodized bands deployed on eagles during 1984-1987 (N = 249 eagles) still show up.  Most are faded to pale gold but at least one I’ve handled was absolutely colorless.  As you know, anodized aluminum bands of that era were not very colorfast.  However, only one bird with an orange color band (code = E7E) was fitted with a PTT satellite unit.  It was a rehab bird released near Auburn ME on 12/11/2005) and the transmitter failed years ago.  A few of the 1984-87 eagles had VHF transmitters (with the long floppy antenna dangling over the tail) but that first photo shows an erect antenna typical of PTT satellite units.


On Jan 21, 2015, at 8:04 PM, Bill Hanson [] wrote:

Craig’s photo sure looks like our North Star unit. The antennae position, rubber antennae base, and small round tip are the same. I attached photos of the unit we put on that day. One photo shows the satellite next to one of Charlie’s older radio units for scale. On another of Craig’s photos I definitely see the E and what looks like the angled part (/) of the 7. The color also matches the more orange shade of the original MDIFW bands. I’d bet it’s the Gulf bird. Mark P. has a scar on his chin to remember her by. Guess that dental floss holds up pretty well. Thank you for the excellent photos and information.


On Jan 29, 2015, at 11:03 AM, Chris Martin [] wrote

I don’t think there can be any doubt now that it’s E7E.  See this cropped and slightly color-adjusted version of one of Craig’s photo from yesterday which I have attached.  From the movement map (also attached) in the couple years after the transmitter was placed on it in Dec 2005, appears that it typically winters on the lower Merrimack, but might be breeding somewhere between Bath and Augusta.  A nice rehabbed bird survival story, and great work by Craig Gibson to get this info via photos!