His outstanding tree climbing skills also helped.
“It has been an honor to climb the Tree of the Nest and work with this famous little eagle,” Campbell-Speaker said in a press release. “We are awaiting lab results, but our initial health assessment and detailed measurements indicate we have a happy and healthy baby!”
Using ropes and seat belts, Campbell-Speakler climbed an 80-foot-high poplar tree in the National Arboretum, gently placed the baby bird in a special eagle bag, and then carried it to the ground for a comprehensive health assessment by experts with the American Fish Association. The Wildlife Service and the Department of Energy and Environment in the capital. This routine process involved collecting beak and foot measurements, drawing blood, a feather sample, and placing an identification strip. The eagle, known as DC9, has been safely returned to the nest by Campbell Speckler.
Scientific processes such as this assessment and ranges allow experts to monitor the health of individual animals, as well as collect long-term data about the species. Ankle bands allow birds like the DC9 to be identified and tracked, aiding in the mapping of migration routes, territories and flight patterns. Blood and small feather samples provide invaluable insight into the overall health of local watersheds and ecosystems, especially urban rivers and human-affected waterways.
Bald eagles feed primarily from water sources and will prey on fish, waterfowl, and other aquatic animals nearby. Toxic organochlorines, lead, rodenticides, and other pollutants in the environment are found overgrown in the tissues of predatory birds as they feed from the polluted ecosystem. Vultures depend on their parents to bring them food and are usually fed from a single source within their territory. Tissue testing from birds as young as the DC9 provides scientists with an opportunity to assess environmental toxins and monitor the overall health of local watersheds.
Excited observers of eagle cameras at the National Arboretum were treated to a direct view of Campbell-Speakler as he climbed into the tree and entered the nest. Campbell-Speckler quietly observed the eagle for signs of distress or annoyance while evaluating the massive hull, which featured an impressive network of woven branches and a fresh fish carcass. Eagle parents often return to the same nest year after year, and some eagles’ nests can grow to over 1,500 pounds as the pair continues to add and replenish.
The DC9 hatched in late March into mother eagles known as Mr. President and Lady of the United States, or lotus. President and Lotus nest in a poplar lily tree at the United States National Arboretum, operated by the USDA. This exclusive opportunity for scopes is the result of the collaborative efforts of government agencies and National Geographic, which were on site to film the operation.
“It’s amazing to me how fast they have grown. Within two weeks, DC9 will be flying over our nation’s capital, learning how to hunt and save for itself,” Campbell-Speakler said in a press release.