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Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles • View topic - Q & A with Reese Lukei - 28 Feb 2008

Norfolk Botanical Garden Eagles

NESTI (Norfolk Eagle Support Team International)
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:48 pm 
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Location: Shenandoah Valley
wvec-moderator: You may copy and paste this Q & A to share with other forums.

wvec-moderator: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our live moderated chat session with Reese Lukei of the Center for Conservation Biology at the College of William and Mary. Reese is one of the biologists who monitors the eagle nest at Norfolk Botanical Garden.

Reese Lukei: Yes - perhaps I could type in a few things about myself to get started.

Reese Lukei: Good afternoon. Thanks for joining me. A few things about my self. I have been doing raptor research as a volunteer for 35 years. I hold permits from the US Fish & Wildlife Service and US Geological Survey. I have banded about 16,000 raptors. I operated a raptor banding station for 18 years at the Eastern Shore of VA NWR. I have been a research associate at CCB since it was formed in 1991.

Sandi: I would like to know Reese's opinion on whether he feels the resident couple will indeed have another clutch given their recent courtship and mating activity
Reese Lukei: Sandi - We can only judge by the behavior we see and that indicates that they will attempt to lay another clutch of eggs

Raptorman: There have been claims made that the female Bald will lay and egg 4-7 days after copulation. Can you direct us to information on this claim? In my experience Balds are regularly know to copulate during the months prior to actually laying dates. They are known as well to copulate in the non-breeding season. Thanks.
Reese Lukei: Raptorman- Ornithology by Frank B Gill and Encyclopedia of North American Birds by John K Terres

Sharon in Maine: It was hard to tell , but do you think that our male actually copulated with the young female? Or possibly was some sort of attack.
Reese Lukei: It appeared to me to more of an attack on the part of the male. I do not think they copulated

Sharon in Maine: Where they seem to mate multiple times throughout the season, has a specific time allowance for the female to actually lay fertulized eggs ,such as days or weeks, been logged or known? When they do not have a nest available do the just drop it anywheres?
Reese Lukei: That likely varies and depends on whether the eggs are fertilized. The references I know say 4 to 7 days after they are fertilized. I have only observed eagles laying eggs in a nest

TheOneAndOnlyShoebutton: In reference to the eggs that were removed from the nest, what kind of tests are being done on the eggs and will you post your findings on the blog? Thank you in advance for your reply.
Reese Lukei: The eggs are at the Virginia Institute of Sciences. Tests will determine embryo growth rate and will be tested for various chemicals especially PCB and DDT

ruffz: Do eagles return to the area where they were born to nest or are there other factors that determine where they nest?
Reese Lukei: They will likely return to the area in which they are born. That is how a population grows. We at CCB have been involved in sending both eggs and young to other states like Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania

jcoleman: I am a high school biology teacher in VA and have been teaching birds to my classes for some time - we do a few citizen science things (GBBC), etc. You said that you've done research as a volunteer for 35 years. Are there any other ways you could recommend that I or even, perhaps, some very interested students could participate in other volunteer research activities in VA?
Reese Lukei: The way I got started was by going to the Kiptopeke Banding Station on the Eastern Shore of VA and offering to help.

kate: Is it common for young eagles to try to steal nests from other eagles? Or do they usually wait for their instincts to tell them to find their own partners and then build new nests?
Reese Lukei: Both - It is not unusual to see the kind of activity we have seen. What makes this so unusual is that it happened after the eggs had been incubated ofr nearly two weeks. The nesting adults are usually much more aggresive in defending their nest

tina: If eagles return to the area from which they were fledged to breed and produce young of their own, what keeps them from mating with siblings...or for that matter with a parent that has lost their mate?
Reese Lukei: Tina - sorry but I do not know the answer to your question. I would like to know the answer to that too

Raptorman: Have patagial markers been consider for eaglets in your management area? Could you elaborate why they are not used in combination with the regular bands? Thanks
Reese Lukei: It has been considered but not approved. Currently other CCB researchers are putting purple leg bands and satelliet devices on eagles at another project. A project with Black Vultures has just been done in VA with wing markers

Nancy: Do the parents and eaglets from previous years have any interaction after the juvies have fledged, or is that a romantic notion on my part? (I.e. would mom and dad recognize last years' babies?)
Reese Lukei: The young are apparently recognized by their parents. We know of one adult pair that allowed a juvenile to sit about 100 yards away during most of a season

Paula: How likely is a second clutch, when it seems it takes months of preparation for the first set of eggs to come - ie, the nest building, bonding, presenting fish to the female, etc.
Reese Lukei: This pair appears to be preparing for a second clutch with out all the early nest building, only housekeeping

rose: why does it seem male is eating bark he strips from nest tree. He does not drop into nest and was seen "chewing "it
Reese Lukei: That is a puzzleing behavior. I have asked Dr Mitchell Byrd and Dr Bryan Watts the same question. Neither have observed this before

barbara: Where are the 3 eagles that were born last year? Are they still in the area?
Reese Lukei: We do not know. We have seen several juveniles in the area, but have not been able to spot the leg bands last years young are wearing

Tracy: how many eagles are at NBG?
Reese Lukei: Right now - just the nesting pair

PattiO: Has there been any kind of research in regards to eagles' diets - specifically by location, the type of fish they eat (saltwater as opposed to fresh water), etc.?
Reese Lukei: One of the results from the tests being done on the two eggs will give us data on their diet. This pair eats mostly fresh water fish.

Sharon in Maine: Is it true that eagles don't have the sense of smell? Read that somewhere.
Reese Lukei: Most birds have a poor sense of smell - turkey vultures are an exception. Large parts of their brains are devoted to sight and hearing

tina: I know that bald eagles are said to mate for life...do you think that due to their bonding "requirements" that this may be a misleading "fact" and as we seen last week the male was ready to take up with the intruder, and perhaps bonding did not happen, and thus the reason the original pair are together again?.
Reese Lukei: I think most research supports eagles mating for life. This female is on at least her second mate. The first that we know of was killed by an airplane on Dec 20, 2002

TheOneAndOnlyShoebutton: This is probably a silly question Mr. Lukei but I have to ask. How many Bald Eagles have you actually held in your arms, perhaps to help them or to release them and what does it feel like to hold these magnificent creatures?
Reese Lukei: I have actually held about 25 eagles

Margy: How do you know that the eagle pair at Norfolk Botanical Gardens are 10 and 12 years old? How long have you been monitoring that pair?
Reese Lukei: This pair nested across the runway you sometimes see when we pan the camera. The female for 2 years the male for one years. The tree was removed to prevent another collision with an airplane. This pair then relocated to NBG

Dusty: What are the chances the 4-year old female was a past juvenile raised from this nest?
Reese Lukei: It is possible but we do not know for sure. Actually there were two sub-adults that have been involved in this affair. We know that because they each had different markings that we could clearly see and photograph

JMLM8184: Due to the energy expended in producing a clutch, is a second clutch expected to be as viable as a first clutch?
Reese Lukei: You are very right. It takes a LOT of energy for the female to produce eggs. It remains to be seen if she can produce more eggs. In other research where eggs were removed on purpose eagles have continued to produce.

Sierra: To be clear, there were two sub adults around the nest, not just the one?
Reese Lukei: That is right. The event on Feb 14 where the nesting female was sitting on a branch and a sub-adult approached and was run off was a second sub-adult not the one causing all the fuss. We have good photos of her tail that show that

kate: Why did the male not defend the nest when it was invaded?
Reese Lukei: Good question. Normal aggressive behavior would have been expected. I do not know why he was not more defensive

Sharon in Maine: Do eagles bulk up their weight to prepare for incubation?
Reese Lukei: I have not done any research on that subject, but it does take a lot of energy on the part of both adults. They are known to copulate several times daily. We saw it on camera twice yesterday

penny: how often do they need to get up and "turn" the eggs while incubating them
Reese Lukei: Eggs are turned every 20-30 minutes for two reasons. for more even temperature and so that the embryo does not stick to the lining of the egg

bev: How long can the eggs be left without brooding
Reese Lukei: Lot of factors. Temperature being the most important. In this case the VA DGIF biologist and I determined after 24 hours that the eggs would not hatch

Raptorman: Do Balds drop the plumage to create their brood patch or is it plucked? Thanks
Reese Lukei: Hmm! I don't know - Do you?

Sharon in Maine: Do you know if there has been any time when more than three eggs have been layed at a nest?
Reese Lukei: That is a question I have asked many times. 3 is the most I know about

tinabeanw: It looks to me that the Eagles have built the nest up higher, just in the past few days. Is this true, and do we know how much it might weigh at this time.
Reese Lukei: Yes they have. We have both photos and video of more sticks being added - right in front of the camera

normabyrd: Would you answer the 2nd part of an earlier question?---What does it feel like to hold an EAGLE in your arms???
Reese Lukei: They are huge. There is nothing else like. I did so about 4 weeks ago when I had to rescue an injured adult that had been attacked by two adults protecting their nest. They are VERY strong.

Raptorman: LOL I believe they are plucked

Margy: Are the squirrels still inside the nest or have the eagles run them away?

Reese Lukei: Thanks - I am going to look that up. good question

Reese Lukei: Squirrels are still there but keeping below the edge of the nest

Judy: What is the status of the injured adult you rescued four weeks ago?
Reese Lukei: Still in rehab at Wildlife Center of VA. It had a puncture all the way through its upper mandible

Margy: Do the eagles at Busch Gardens make nests and mate while they are in captivity? If so, how do they teach the young to hunt for food? Thanks.
Reese Lukei: Margy - I don't know if they have a reproduction program at Busch - sorry

penny: this might really be a dumb question but-- why are they called bald eagles they obviously have feathers and are not bald
Reese Lukei: Before we close I want to say this has been one of the most exciting projects I have been involved with and a great example of partnership.
Reese Lukei: bald is an old english word for white head - thus white headed eagle

Lilarose: Is there a way to electronically scan (like from a distance) a bird band to identify that particular bird (like sex, date of orig banding, any other info). Kind of like we do cats/dogs. That way they don't have to guess which bird is in a nest...etc.
Reese Lukei: Not that I know about

smilesrp: Thanks Mr. Lukei for your time and answers to all the many questions submitted today. We have all been educated.

Glo: Is there any talk of audio for this nest do you know
Reese Lukei: Yes we are considering audio. Many thanks to those of you on the blogs who are watching when we are not and for keeping a record so that we all know about these eagles movements

ruff: When both the eagles are sitting together on a branch how can we tell them apart?
Reese Lukei: That has become more difficult. The male seems to have lost the tip of two breast feathers (the white ones under his chin) making him look more like the female. She is larger. His beak is a darker almost orange color, she has more weathered feathers - looking more brown

Tracy: We are addicted, any advice on not getting attached
Reese Lukei: My wife says I have an incurable disease, so I am not the one to ask

wvec-moderator: Our time has ended. We want to thank Reese Lukei for taking the time to answer questions about the eagles at Norfolk Botanical Garden, and thanks also to everyone who participated in our live web chat.

Reese Lukei: Thanks to all

TheOneAndOnlyShoebutton: Thank you Mr Lukei. Your time that you spent with us is very much appreciated!

Tracy: your the man!!

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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