Bald Eagle Rehabbed in 2014 Confirmed in 2017 Pair

Posted on March 29, 2017
Walpole BAEA 3-24-17 by Mike LaClair

Walpole Bald Eagle WS1 identified from photo taken on March 23, 2017 by Michael LaClair.

By Chris Martin

It is unusual to get information on the success of returning rehabilitated raptors to the wild, but this past month NH Audubon learned of one such eagle now breeding in the state! Stories like this are one outcome of our Bald Eagle monitoring and management project supported by NH Fish and Game, and TransCanada.

On March 23, Keene-area wildlife photographer Michael LaClair identified ‘Gold WS1’ as a current member of a pair of Bald Eagles nesting on the Connecticut River in Walpole, NH. Gold WS1 hatched in Spring 2005 at Third Island on the Connecticut River in Deerfield, MA. After receiving this photo, I reviewed our NH band recovery records and was surprised to find that we’d seen Gold WS1 before!

Gold WS1 9-6-14 by VT-NH Vet Clinic

VT-NH Veterinary Clinic photo, Sept. 2014.

On September 2, 2014, Gold WS1 was picked up on the Connecticut River about a mile upriver from the Putney Landing Public Access by Vermont Game Warden Kelly Price as he investigated public reports of a sick eagle in the area. Warden Price took the bird to the VT-NH Veterinary Clinic in Putney, VT.  The bird was behaving listlessly and could not fly any distance. It weighed 7.5 lbs. At the clinic, X-rays for lead proved negative, and there were no external signs of injury. The bird gradually improved under care and was returned to the wild at the Putney Landing about two weeks later, on September 15.

The story and video were posted by the Brattleboro Reformer.

Upon release near Putney Landing, the eagle reportedly flew upriver and almost immediately was seen interacting in the air with two other Bald Eagles. As it turns out, this bird’s nest site in 2017 is located just 5 miles straight line (or 6 miles following the meandering river) north of where it was found back in September 2014.

It is quite rare to get proof that a rehabbed raptor has successfully re-entered the breeding population. All parties involved in this story should feel proud of the good work they do, often with little feedback about future outcomes for their feathered patients. Nice work all!