The Arizona Bald Eagle Management Program has been around for 45 years. Since 1991, officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department have tracked and banded more than 760 bald eagles.
“The bald eagle program has been having a lot of successes in the last few years,” says the Raptor Management Coordinator with the Arizona Game & Fish Department, Kenneth 'Tuk' Jacobson. “There’s countless stories of amazing feats of attempts to rescue birds and fix management situations and figuring out how to do it successfully.”
AZ Game & Fish tracks these birds to figure out how long they are living on average and how far from their natal areas they travel to nest in five years.
Biologists with the department recently rappelled down a cliff to band two new bald eagle nestlings who are both around five weeks old.
“I rappelled down the cliff into their nest, was able to secure them. I put a hood on them as soon as I can. That way their eyes are covered,” says Arizona Game & Fish Department Birds and Mammals Biologist Jen Pressler. She says that bald eagles rely so heavily on visual stimulation that when they can’t see, they’re much easier to handle.
Once the bald eagles are hoisted back up the cliff, that is when the bands are applied. Two bands are put on each one — one is silver for the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the other is blue for the AZ Game & Fish to identify the bird from a distance in the future.
They take the weight and size of the nestlings who are then placed back into their nest.
Game & Fish says there are currently 154 documented breeding bald eagles in the state.
If you come across bald eagles in the wild, it’s best to give them their space and enjoy them from a distance.