Thursday, November 29, 2012

11/27/12: D14 Announcement

We are sorry to announce that Bob Anderson found D14 dead yesterday near Rockford, Iowa. D14, a 2012 hatch year bald eagle from Decorah, Iowa, was electrocuted after landing or trying to land on a power pole. Bob immediately notified the utility company. D14's body will be sent to the National Eagle Repository, where his feathers and other parts will be distributed for use in Native American religious ceremonies. Bob and Brett Mandernack did a close exam
ination of D14's body. He was healthy and butterball fat. There were no signs of wear from the transmitter or backpack.

How common is electrocution? A federal study done in the 1990s identified impact injuries, poisoning, gunshot, and electrocution as the top four sources of bald eagle mortality. We haven't seen it in Decorah until this year, but D14's transmitter was the only reason we were able to follow him after he left the nest. New poles commonly have bird safety devices since bird electrocutions are not only tragic, but can cause fires and power supply disruptions. However, many old poles remain and safety devices don't always work. It's been known since the 1920s that power lines and poles can present a danger to birds. As Bald eagle (and presumably other large bird) populations expand, more electrocutions may happen.

D12, a sibling of D14, was electrocuted earlier this year. A group calling themselves The Memorial for D12 Facebook Group (aka The Raptor Nation) responded by working with Alliant Energy, Puget Sound Energy, Decorah High School, and Decorah Building Supply to develop and fit bird-safe perches for the hatchery. I have a blog post and links about that here:

If you'd like to initiate a perch project in your area, please talk with your local power company. The following links provide wonderful sources of information:

Avian Power Line Interaction Committee:
D12 Memorial Group story:
Avian Protection Devices:
D12 Perches:

All raptors - all wild animals - face myriad dangers in their lives. It is easy to forget that watching and tracking them doesn't protect them. We'll miss following D14.