Bald Eagle: Haggetts Pond subadult!

March 15, 2017 in Bald Eagle

_W7I4175-001An unexpected treat while making a visit Haggets Pond in Andover on the west side of Rt. 93 heading north just before Rt. 495.  A subadult Bald Eagle flew into a tree next to the water treatment main building with a freshly caught fish in its talons.  A subadult like this one, requires further study in order to make a good guess as to the age of the Eagle!

Haggetts Pond is the reservoir for the town of Andover, Massachusetts, United States. It is located in the western part of the town and also lends its name to a road. The Merrimack River is connected to the pond to add volume to the reservoir.

Each year, Andover’s water treatment plant pumps and treats 2.2 billion gallons of water from Haggetts Pond which is fed from the Merrimack River via Fish Brook.  During winter months, the town uses roughly 6 million gallons a day, but in the summer, water use doubles to 12 to 14 million as a result of lawn watering and the filling of swimming pools.

A bald eagle does not display its adult plumage until its fourth or fifth year. Until then it often find it difficult to determine the age of the young eagle. Eye color, beak color, presence of an eye stripe and the amount of white on the belly, tail and covert feathers are field marks. Each of the first four years is supposed to be distinctive.

This young and growing Bald Eagle has a buffy crown, light gray bill, brown and white mottling, white wing pits, tan eye color….all these field marks suggest a Basic II subadult!


Bald Eagles: Lawrence!

September 29, 2016 in Bald Eagle

_w7i5983-001Earlier this week, had a wonderful chance to see Bald Eagles along the Merrimack in North Andover.  they tend to perch along the river this time of year, up until the start of breeding season.  Most often, the Bald Eagles, both adults and sub-adults are seen on the east side of Rt. 495 on the border of Lawrence and North Andover.

After scanning for Bald Eagles in every known location, came up totally empty.  After taking a look at the local peregrines, was just ready to head off, when a large soaring bird caught my attention.  Behold, it was an adult Bald Eagle rising in a circular motion with wings outstretched….a beautiful sight!  The adult Bald Eagle continued making circular loops and and headed off to the west.

_w7i6142-001Moments later, another large soaring bird came into view and it turned out to be a juvenile Bald Eagle.  Same circular soaring motion with wings outstretched….WOW!  Both birds were relaxed and taking their time working their way westward under cloudy skies and strong NE winds blowing at almost 20MPH.  The juvenile had a dark belly and underneath, whitish wing pits, and varying amounts of white on the underwings.  The two inner-most primaries are translucent in the backlighting.

Bald Eagle: Merrimack River

January 20, 2016 in Bald Eagle

CF2C3727-001Had an unexpected encounter with a likely 3rd year subadult Bald Eagle.  It was perched on a tree branch overhanging the Merrimack River in Methuen opposite the Lawrence Municipal Airport.  At first, it looked like possible Red-tailed Hawk through the thick tree branches….but after a closer second look and seeing the bill, then it was easy to make the eagle call.  The plumage points to a likely third year bird.  A nice unexpected treat while searching for adult eagles!

4 Bald Eagles in a food fight!

February 3, 2015 in Bald Eagle

Had an amazing time yesterday morning in very cold temps, watching 4 Bald Eagles along the Merrimack River in Lawrence.   Arrived to find 2 adults quietly perched on tree branch overhanging slow flowing river below. Then one adult slowly departs to the west.

This is the Bald Eagle with the transmitter and antenna. This is a rehabilitated adult eagle that was banded and fitted w/ a non-solar transmitter and antenna prior to release near Auburn ME on 12/11/2005. According Maine Wildlife officials, that 2005 rehabbed bird was banded with one of the last-remaining Maine state orange color bands with a three digit code “E7E”. Due to incomplete records, this bird would be a minimum of 15 yrs old this coming spring!

As the adult flew just a bit upriver, clear eagle cries were heard nearby. After scanning in search of the bickering sounds, 2 subadults were observed on snow-covered ice near edge of river. Watched while they engaged in playful food fight. The adult approached and then joined in the fracas. Fascinating!

16 photo sequence posted:   Click “next” in upper right to advance frames!

Bald Eagle, subadult: leg bands P/7 (2.5 yr. old)

January 21, 2015 in Bald Eagle

With just a few minutes to check for Bald Eagles on the Merrimack River, made the rounds to tall the normal perches with no luck.  The final stop was looking west out over the Great Stone Dam.  from the north side of the river, scanned the ice and nearby overhanging tree limbs.  From a distance of just under 500 yards away, looked like a possible subadult eagle in a tree along the south side of the river, west of the dam.  Sure enough, it was a subadult.  The bird lifted off before I arrived from the initial vantage point.  It flew out onto the ice in the middle of the river.  The crows quickly initiated multiple rounds of  relentless harrassment.  As the eagle took off, it left behind some type of a pink wishbone snack remain.  It landed again on the south side berm which was about 100 yards from my new vantage point.  This new location provide nice looks and better opportunity to make positive ID of orange P/7 leg bands.  We have seen this bird a number of times nearby over last week!

Bald Eagle and subadult: transmitter & antenna & LEG BANDS!

January 13, 2015 in Bald Eagle

For those with an interest, a fascinating additional sighting on Tuesday of the transmitter/antenna adult Bald Eagle.  Photos include partial view of leg band codes, PTT transmitter, and antenna.  No clarity around possible origin of this bird and no clear way to whittle down the possibilities, with lots of expert input as you’ll see below.  Stopped by the Great Stone Dam again in Lawrence Tuesday morning and encountered both an adult and a subadult bald eagle on the ice!Looks like a gull had been ripped apart and they took turns.  Was able to watch and capture photos from the west side of the Great Stone Dam bridge.  The bridge is on South Broadway and is also known as Rt. 28.  The adult had a transmitter and a PTT antenna that sticks up……so fired away with camera hoping to possibly get band codes.  The adult looks like it has a possible “E” on the band.  I’m not able to clarify any further info.  The subadult looks like P/7 which has been seen and photographed previously.
Links to photos:
Adult feeding on gull, cleaning bill, walking ice, and drinking:   CLICK “NEXT” UPPER RIGHT TO ADVANCE
4 photos of subadult (2.5yrs) with P/7 leg band:
4 photos of adult leg band:
2 photos of PTT transmitter and antenna:
P/7 info from Tom French:
Bald Eagle
Band numbers:  0679-04089, and P/7 burnt orange
Banding date and Location:  06-12-12 – MA, Essex Co., Amesbury, Powwow River (tributary of the Merrimack River).
Sex:  Possible female based on size compared to sibling (7.25 lb)
Siblings: P/6 (5.75 lb)
No previous band reports
From Charlie Todd, Coordinator of Endangered/threatened Species in Maine:
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.  Quebec has used orange color bands & some PTT transmitters in recent years.  Check with Charles on possibilities from there.  Best – Charlie

Charlie Todd                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Endangered & Threatened Species Coordinator                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Maine Dept. of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

From Charles Maisonneuve, bird biologist in Quebec,

There are no numbers on the bands we use to mark bald eagles, only a combination of 2 letters, one over the other.  If you are sure the code ends with a 5, then it’s not a bird banded in Québec.

Charles Maisonneuve, biologiste

Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs

Direction de la gestion de la faune du Bas-Saint-Laurent

Any and all further input and comments most welcome as we gather more information.  These were best of the limited band photos!

Bald Eagle, first year, over Merrimack in Lawrence!

January 9, 2015 in Bald Eagle

What a nice surprise while scanning for Bald Eagles this afternoon with a staffer and fellow bird photographer from NXStage Medical Inc., to encounter a young first year bird flying west from the direction of the Lawrence Municipal Airport.  We were standing outside in the wind and cold comparing notes when we both noticed a likely eagle in the distance.  The eagle was lazily moving west and following the path of the river below.  The light was beautiful and we were so thankful!

A few more photos:    Click “next” in upper right to advance frames!

Bald Eagle nest; NW Essex County

June 24, 2014 in Bald Eagle

This Bald Eagle is located in a nest in NW Essex County and it is ready to fledge and is expected to make first flight in next few days!

Bald Eagle nestling

June 24, 2014 in Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle nest in northeast Essex County along the Merrimack has 2 chicks this year.  Stopped by on a warm late June afternoon and observed the eaglet panting in the warm heavy air.  Like dogs, eagles don’t have sweat glands. They control heat by panting, radiation through their unfeathered legs and feet, and perching in the shade.

Bald Eagles, juvenile pair

April 28, 2014 in Bald Eagle

Once the bald eagle has reached the stage where its secondary down is beginning to be replaced, it is called a juvenile. From the fourth to the eighth week, the juvenile bald eagle continues to grow at a rapid rate. It continues to molt, losing its secondary down and gaining the feathers or plumage of the juvenile eagle. The plumage of the juvenile eagle is far less striking than that of the adult eagle. It appears to be a dark grayish brown. The coloring of the juvenile bald eagle is very similar to the coloring of the adult golden eagle.

The physical changes that the juvenile eagle undergoes in its growth from youth to adulthood can be described as moving from muted, darker, all-one-color shades to the striking high-contrast colors of the adult.

For example, the juvenile’s eyes progress from a dark brown, to a lighter brown, to a cream to its adult coloring of yellowish white. The bald eagle’s beak and cere transfrom from a dark black or gray to a mixture of gray and black to a mixed yellow and gray to the adult vibrant yellow. Its head feathers are dark brown to black in the juvenile but get progressively lighter brown and gray until they turn a dirty gray just before achieving the brilliant white head feathers of the adult bald eagle. The lower breast of the juvenile is a dark brown which becomes molted and then returns to a very dark brown in the adult. The tail changes from black with gray near the vane to a mixed gray and black to a final pure white in the adult eagle.

The size of the juvenile bald eagle is remarkable in that it is actually larger than the size of the fully grown adult bald eagle. This is because the plumage of the juvenile bald eagle is actually longer and thicker than that of the adult bald eagle. The adult bald eagle is more streamlined with fewer and shorter feathers than the juvenile. This streamlining contributes to the more graceful flight of the adult bald eagle. The longer feathers tend to make the juvenile eagle a bit clumsy in flight.