For Immediate Release - June 06, 2013


Eagle Banding 2013
Governor Patrick joins MassWildlife officials to band bald eagle chicks as part of the Commonwealth's bald eagle restoration program at the Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown.
(Photo Credit: Eric Haynes / Governor's Office)
View more photos

BELCHERTOWN – Thursday, June 6, 2013 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan, Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Commissioner Mary Griffin and the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) staff to band bald eagle chicks at the Quabbin Reservoir. MassWildlife has banded bald eagle chicks since 1982 as part of a bald eagle restoration project.

As part of MassWildlife’s annual effort to band all bald eagle chicks hatched in the Commonwealth every spring, each eaglet is outfitted with uniquely numbered metal leg bands that will enable researchers to identify it later. Banding young eagles is an important tool for measuring the success of species restoration programs by enabling scientists to gather information about survival rates, how far birds disperse when they leave the nest, habitat preferences and causes of death.

“The bald eagle population continues to rebound throughout the Commonwealth thanks to restoration efforts that began more than 30 years ago,” said Secretary Sullivan. “Since then, the year-round dedication of biologists and conservationists has helped protect these national symbols and their natural habitat.”

A victim of habitat loss and reproductive failure linked to exposure to pesticides such as DDT, bald eagle populations had plummeted across the country by the time they were placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1973. Their numbers have since rebounded and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed bald eagles from the federal endangered species list in 2007. 

In Massachusetts, the bald eagle was down-listed from Endangered to Threatened status in 2012.

“It is particularly satisfying to study and band bald eagles at the Quabbin Reservoir, where the restoration effort for this magnificent species began in Massachusetts,” said DFG Commissioner Griffin. “We appreciate all the hard work MassWildlife staff puts in for bald eagle research and restoration in all regions of the Commonwealth, and are grateful for the help of the Department of Conservation and Recreation at the Quabbin and Wachusett Reservoirs.”

In 1982, MassWildlife and its partners brought young eagles from Canada and Michigan and raised them in cages overlooking the Quabbin Reservoir. Through a wildlife management practice known as “hacking,” in which young birds of prey are raised in an outdoor cage with no direct human contact and later released into the wild, the eagles established breeding territories at the reservoir.

In April 2013, there were close to 40 active eagle nests counted in the state’s first Nesting Eagle Survey, including the Quabbin Reservoir, Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers and areas in Plymouth, Berkshire and Worcester Counties. In 2012, 19 of 27 nests produced chicks, and 31 young eagles survived to fly.

Follow us on Twitter - View our Photos - Watch our Videos