D14, the only eaglet wearing a transmitter, roosts on a farm roof. (Submitted photo)
A second Decorah eaglet has died from electrocution.
Bob Anderson of the Raptor Resource Project discovered the fallen D14 eaglet yesterday in Rockford (Iowa), after its transmitter showed no movement. (Rockford is approximately 71 miles southwest of Decorah.)
D14 is one of three Decorah eaglets hatched in the nest near the Fish Hatchery this spring. It was the only one of the three to be fitted with a transmitter.
D12, who was hatched at the same time, was electrocuted on a pole near the Hatchery last summer. The whereabouts of the third nest mate, D13, is unknown.
"I used a portable receiver and tracked down the dead bird at the base of a single-phase power pole. The bird was obviously electrocuted with electrical burns to one foot and burns to one wing," said Anderson, who had immediately notified the utility company.
He said a close examination was done of D14's body.
"He was healthy and butterball fat. There were no signs of wear from the transmitter or backpack," said Anderson.
Anderson has operated the eagle cam that has streamed live footage of the eagle's nest near the Decorah Fish Hatchery to millions of Internet viewers all over the world for the past four years.
Anderson said, unfortunately, 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 (referring to D12), but D14's transmitter is the only reason we were able to follow him after he left the nest."
Anderson said, 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 birds) populations expand, more electrocutions may happen.
According to Anderson, 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.
Since the death of D12 last summer, there has been a "Memorial for D12" Facebook page, sponsored by the The Raptor Nation, a group which recently raised money to protect eagles from being electrocuted locally.
The group worked with Alliant Energy, Puget Sound Energy (who supplied the design), Decorah High School, and Decorah Building Supply to develop and fit bird-safe pole perches for the hatchery.
Upon hearing the news of D14's death, Michael Cunningham of Seattle, who administers The Raptor Nation website (theraptornation.org), said, "It's terribly sad, but strengthens our resolve to make a difference and reinforces that we are doing the right things to protect these amazing creatures."
For more information, visit: raptorresource.blogspot.com/2012/11/bird-safe-power-poles.html.
For more information about perch projects, visit:
Avian Power Line Interaction Committee: aplic.org/
D12 memorial group story: raptorresource.blogspot.com/2012/11/bird-safe-power-poles.html
Avian protection devices: srpnet.com/environment/aviandiagram.aspx
· D12 perches: flickr.com/photos/68092929@N03/8203641600/
"We'll miss D14," said Anderson.
"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."