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Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles • View topic - Q & A with Stephen Living

Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles

NESTI (Norfolk Eagle Support Team International)
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 7:53 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:50 pm
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Location: Shenandoah Valley
05 Jun 2008

wvec-moderator: Welcome to the Live Chat session with Stephen Living, wildlife biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. Stephen will give us a wrap-up of the 2008 nesting season at Norfolk Botanical Garden and answer your questions about wildlife and ecology.

Stephen Living: Hello All

wvec-moderator: We will be beginning shortly. Be sure to send in your questions that you would like Stephen to answer.
wvec-moderator: Stephen, I have forwarded over two questions to you. Are you able to see them? If so, you may answer them as you are ready.

Stephen Living: No messages in the speaker panel as of yet

wvec-moderator: Okay. I will post them directly to the room, and you can answer them from there.
wvec-moderator: Are the adult eagles still in the area?
Stephen Living: The adults are still in the general area and are occasionally seen by observers at the Norfolk Botanical Garden

FB: Is avian pox a new disease among the bird population? Is it native to America or did it originate elsewhere? What other countries have similar problems?
Stephen Living: The disease is not a new one, as to the epidemiology of the the virus, someone with more of a veterinary background would need to answer that

mommy4ndb: Hi Steven, with all the human interaction with the nest this year, will the pair return next season?

Stephen Living: It is a disease that occurs across North America

Stephen Living: This pair is acclimated to a fair amount of human activity
Stephen Living: last year we banded all three of the chicks and the pair returned as expected
Stephen Living: Keep in mind that they have nested at a highly public site

annsva: Has it been determined if avian pox is a problem with other birds in the Norfolk area and has there been or will there be mosquito control at NBG since the diagnosis of avian pox ?
Stephen Living: We know of two other occurences in the broader region (Tidewater) but there is no systematic surveillance for Avian Pox
Stephen Living: I know of no plans for mosquito control at the Garden
Stephen Living: This single case does not indicate an outbreak, or neccesarily mean that the virus is common in the area

Falcon64: Should the eaglet recover to the point where he can be released, will the determination of where the release will occur be made by DGIF, WCV, or multiple agencies?
Stephen Living: Good question...this process is a collaboration between these groups
Stephen Living: I would expect that the decision would be made jointly by DGIF and WCV with input from William & Mary CCB

jbcaprine: Living in the southern coastal area of Texas, we have raptors that winter with us, however, we don't have bald eagles that stay or breed in our area. Why is this, when there are eagles in Florida?
Stephen Living: The breeding and wintering range of Bald Eagles is more eastern and northern
Stephen Living: That being said Eagles are known to breed and winter in TX[

cindy: after nesting do the pair of mated eagles stay together or separate until the next breeding season?
Stephen Living: That's variable. The Norfolk pair associate with each other throughout the year. Eagles that are more migratory may wander apart and come together on their breeding grounds

FB: Why is there such a large concentration of eagles in Alaska than in other states where the weather is more "friendly".
Stephen Living: Friendly is a relative term. These animals are well adapted to deal with what we would consider extreme weather. Alaska also offers lots of habitat and great concentrations of prey (like salmon)

annsva: we've been told you still haven't gotten results of the testing on the two eggs removed from the nest...why does it take so long?
Stephen Living: The eggs were transferred by William & Mary CCB to the VIMS (Vrginia Institute of Marine Science) lab, so I don't have a direct contact to follow up on that info. I'm not sure what the protocols are for the lab testing are or what other tests might be ahead of us in line.
Stephen Living: There is no reason to associate the occurence of Avian Pox with anything that we might find out from those eggs however

DeeJay: Is it possible that another eagle pair could set up a nest in the NBG garden area along with the local pair that already call NBG home?
Stephen Living: How close eagles will nest to each other is dependent on a number of factors, chiefly the abundance of available prey

the juice: Would the loss of the eaglet make the nest a less likely place for the eagles to return next season?

Stephen Living: I do not expect that two pairs of eagles would nest in that close proximity to each other at the Norfolk Botanical Garden

Stephen Living: That a great question and not really known
Stephen Living: Eagles regularly lose egg and/or young and return to nest at a site
Stephen Living: Given the stressful year that this pair underwent however we'll be watchful to see if they return

kteamjags: If Eagles mate for life then why did this male have a wandering eye this year? Why didn't he just fight her off?

Stephen Living: They have been extraordinarily successful at this site in previous years...so my guess is yes they'll return

Stephen Living: When we say "mate for life" this is by no means an absolute
Stephen Living: Eagles (and all wildlife) select the mate that demonstrates the best reproductive fitness
Stephen Living: The male did act aggressively towards the interloper at first
Stephen Living: What was surprising was that the resident female was not more aggressive in defending her territory

Falcon64: Is the Bald Eagle population in Virginia still on the rise, or is it beginning to level off? What about the Greater Tidewater area?
Stephen Living: The latest survey data (2006) that we have indicates that the population in Virginia (including the tidewater) is still on the rise.

cindy: is there only one pair of eagles at NBG?
Stephen Living: Yes

tweety: Is there any evidence of DDT (or other pollutants) in the eagles that nest in Virginia? Or in their potential prey items?

Stephen Living: only one resident (breeding) pair

Stephen Living:DDT has a relatively short life in the environment

1lucy: Where do the Eagles go in the "off season"?

Stephen Living: it degrades to a more problematic substance called DDE - which causes reproductive problems in VA. This and other contaminants are potentially present in the eagle's food web

Stephen Living: Some eagles will remain in the general vicinity of the nesting territory...others my wander
Stephen Living: In VA we have two large concentration areas for Eagles
Stephen Living: The Rappahannock River and James River
Stephen Living: Birds from both North and South will migrate to these areas
Stephen Living:The Potomac is also an important concentration area

annsva: NBG has told us that it is illegal to remove an eagles nest for 5 yrs. Have there been "special circumstances" this wasn't the case? I'm thinking about possible contamination and spread of disease?
Stephen Living: Eagles nests cannot be removed for 5 years because eagles will often return to an unused territory.

DeeJay: Are they able to recognize their offspring and if so, could that be one reason why the female wasn't more aggressive toward the interloper?

Stephen Living: While Avian Pox can be a tough virus it is unlikely that it would persist on the nest surface for the next 6 months without a host

Stephen Living: There is no reason to believe that Eagles can recognize past offspring, it's n interesting postulate, but as the young were only banded last year there is no way to tell

tina: has there been any sighting of previous year's babies - since they were banded they could be recognized?
Stephen Living: There have been no sighting that I am aware of. It would require someone with high powered optics to read the band # and report. The Bird Banding lab in Pawtuxent is the central clearing house for that data

watchinbirds: how far would a pair of eagles travel on a normal day? i am about an hour away from Norfolk and saw a pair of eagles in my area in January of this year. could it have been the NBG pair do you suppose?
Stephen Living: In January the Norfolk eagles were territorial so I would expect them to stay much closer to home, you likely saw a different pair of eagles

InkLink: Has there been any discussion as to whether or not the resident squirrels played a significant role in this year's drama?
Stephen Living: I've seen some discussion of this but can't see how they would have contributed. The adults were definitely aware of the squirrels and reacted to their presence but not in way that contributed to any of the trouble at the nest

blue_velvet22000: Why do they not use the wing tabs that are so easily seen?
Stephen Living:Wing tabs also called Patagial Markers are only used for short term monitoring projects. When the birds molt the tags fall off
Stephen Living:leg bands provide a life-long means of identification

mommy4ndb: Being so close to the Norfolk Airport, the pair must be at higher risks for other airborne viruses?
Stephen Living:The Avian Pox is not an airborne virus
Stephen Living:It is transmitted by a mosquito vector or by close bird to bird contact
Stephen Living:The proximity to the airport wouldn't expose the birds to any pathogens not likely to be found in any urban area

4 Eagles: This year Eagle Cam expanded watching the birds 24/7. Do you think too much and that added to their stress? We all are so attached, and maybe need to give them some space.
Stephen Living: The ability to view the birds 24/7 was accomplished by the addition of an infrared lightsource. The light was not in the visible spectrum (for eagles or people) and wouldn't have added any stress
Stephen Living: The camera was always in place,we simply allowed it to "see" the eagles
Stephen Living: eagles

tina: Is it possible that next year the pair would try to rebuild their old nest since it was so much more successful than the new one?
Stephen Living: I suppose anything is possible Tina, although the old nest is a fairly compacted mass of soggy sticks, twigs and debris...probably wouldn't make for a good nest

InkLink: What have you and the other other biologists learned this year from observing the Norfolk pair? Anything that you might not have learned if this year had been more successful? In other words, have you learned anything from bad circumstances that you might not have learned from good ones?
Stephen Living:This has definitely been educational. Essentially any data expands our knowledge base. we don;t necessarily learn more from a negative outcome
Stephen Living:arggg

cindy: i am watching another eagle nest now and a couple of days ago the father eagle brought a stuffed toy animal to the nest. Is this common?
Stephen Living: Definitely not common...some birds are known to incorporate trash into a nest, although not usually eagles. I do know of a par of osprey that brought a teddy bear to their nest

rose: our male had a habit of "barking" biting pieces of tree no other eagles did this do we know why?
Stephen Living: Great question...That was interesting watch
Stephen Living: My feeling is that the male was removing bark to remove obstructions that might snag or abrade feathers
Stephen Living: or he might have been bored ;-)

APD: This may be an awfully basic question but how old are the current couple and how many more seasons will they be able to reporduce?
Stephen Living: We don't have an absolute date on this pair as we don't know their origins

jbcaprine: Many of us in Texas have become endeared by your eagles and appreciate the opportunity to share in the life of this pair. I would like to compliment all involved on the quality of this experience. I have searched the web for other eagle families, only to fully realize the quality of your program. Congrats and thank you!

cindy: when will the nesting season begin again?

Stephen Living: Eagles have been known to breed until there early 20's

Stephen Living: Thank You jbcaprine

Stephen Living: Eagles will begin to get territorial in late Nov. early Dec.
Stephen Living: We'll expect eggs in Jan-Feb

Eaglelover: Has there been any problems noted with the increased eagle population mixing with mans world... or man's world interfering with the increase of the eagle pop? Are you seeing any interesting adaptive techniques on the part of the eagles?
Stephen Living: Eagles seem to become more tolerant of urban conditions and we are seeing more nesting attempts in busy well-populated areas

guest: are you keeping an eye on the pair that nest here ,to make sure that they don't show signs of avian Pox?
Stephen Living: We did closely monitor the pair while the camera was still active and did not detect any signs of Avian Pox
Stephen Living: Since then no observers have reported any obvious lesions

birdlover: will we ever know how the NBG eaglet contracted the avian pox?
Stephen Living: Probably not...mosquito transmission is the most common but...the parents could have been carriers, or a bird captured as prey may have been infected...no way for us to determine

Are you aware of any future plans to extend eagle coverage in the Reelfoot Lake area...example...cams
Stephen Living: I'm not familiar with Reelfoot lake...is that in the Tidewater area of VA

blue_velvet22000: No...in W. Tennessee
Stephen Living: Definitley out of my jurisiction
Stephen Living: jurisdiction

cindy: since the previous chicks from the NBG were banded, is there any information where they are today??
Stephen Living: To my knowledge we have not had any reports of any of the 3

wvec-moderator: This will be the last question of the chat session. Thanks to everyone that has participated and a special thanks to Stephen Living for answering these questions about the eagles.

FB: What is the estimate of the total eagle population in america today?
Stephen Living: Sorry...explorer crashed

wvec-moderator: Here is the last question again.
wvec-moderator: What is the estimate of the total eagle population in america today?
Stephen Living: The last data that I'm familiar with had the lower 48 pop. at a bit under 6,000

Stephen Living:wvec-moderator: This ends out chat session today.Thanks to everyone that has participated and a special thanks to Stephen Living for answering these questions about the eagles.

Stephen Living: Canada & Alaska pops not well delineated because of the vast area
Stephen Living: Thanks All

wvec-moderator: Keep checking the Eagle cam page for more live chat sessions about the eaglet and the parent eagle pair. Thanks again for joining in our live chat session today.

For the animals shall not be measured by man ~ They are not our brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth ~ Henry Beston

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