Posted by: rlukei | September 21, 2009

Azalea Travels to King and Queen County

On Thursday Sept 17 on our last map, Azalea was within a couple hundred yards of the Potomac River near the entrance of Newman’s Creek. Later on Thursday she made a brief flight back to the Little Wicomoco River south of Vir-Mar Beach, but then returned to Hull Creek just off the Potomac River. She spent all day Friday Sept 18 in that area flying back and forth between Hull Creek and Presley Creek. Late on the morning of Saturday Sept 19 she got the urge to leave Northumberland County again, but this time took off flying south crossing the Rappahannock River and US Route 17 into Middlesex County flying over Warner, VA then turning west into King and Queen County flying over Mascot, VA and Dragon Swamp. She settled in on a small creek just north of Little Plymouth, VA and spent the night there. Sunday Morning Sept 20 she made her way to the King and Queen County landfill which is just west of Coldwater, VA. Landfills are well known for attracting gulls and other scavenger species. Libby Mojica, CCB biologist, informs me that several other bald eagles that have been fitted with satellite transmitters by CCB have also found their way to this landfill. If Azalea is successful foraging on gulls she may stay a while.

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I do hope it’s only nutritious gulls she feeds on…dump food doesn’t sound appealing

How do AZ’s activities compare to other transmitter eagles? Does she tip the scale at being more active? Is she moving around because food is scarce or is she just a restless soul? It’s really fascinating to follow her travels – many thanks to you and your crew.

That could be a good eating place. Thanks for the update. Helen

Once again I hurry home from work and turn the computer on to read about Azeala. SMH poses some good questions. I will look forward to read the answers. Thanks so much.

Does this mean that her appetite is changing to gulls from fish? I remember when parents brought the first pidgeon to the nest, Azalea was not sure if it was to be eaten or not. Seemed that fish was primary food source.

SMH – Young eagles tend to explore on their own, and that is what Azalea appears to be doing. While a few of the other eagles with satellites have been to Northumberland County, the same area of the Rappahannock River and even to the King & Queen landfill, none of them are at those locations at this time. There may be other eagles at the landfill now, but without someone there looking for them, we have no way to know. And of course, we had no way to know in advance that is where Azalea was heading.

pawpaw – Bald eagles are opportunist and will eat just about anything, but by far they prefer fresh fish. I suspect that the landfill is a temporary stop for Azalea. I remember well how she would not touch the pigeon brought to her nest, and how her younger sister (HE) finally moved in to eat the pigeon.

Is there any chance, what so ever, that the parents may run into her or the other eaglets at some point in time? What about Azalea’s siblings, could they run into each other and would they even know they were siblings? Has is ever been noted? Will any of the 3 eaglets come back to the nest a NBG? Also, I read that it takes about 3 years for a eaglet to look like an adult eagle and 5 yrs before they will re-produce, is that correct?

Patti – It generally takes 5 years for a bald eagle to get the white head and tail, and to be capable of reproducing. We know that right now the parents of Azalea are at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. We don’t know the location of HE and HK as they have bands but not transmitters. Could they meet up with Azalea? Possible, but it would just be our good luck to be there to observe the event.
The King and Queen County landfill where Azalea is now at, has been identified by Dr. Bryan Watts, CCB Director, as a communal foraging site for several bald eagles, so Azalea is likely there with other eagles.

Reese, I came across a news article about a new eagle permit regulation. Can you translate and explain this? I read it, but without knowing what the previous regulations stated, I’m not sure what’s significant about this. Here’s a link:
I thought there were already regulations that allowed for removing nests from airports. And I’m even more confused because this news article says that it improves preservation of eagles, but it seems that permits are now going to be allowed to disturb them… ??? Unless I’m reading it wrong. Back to my original request: Please translate and explain.

Reese, What are the chances, or opportunites to follow all of the chicks from next year’s nest? it would be so interesting to see how siblings relate geographically, or how they don’t! Just wondering. Thanks for everything… Merri

Merri – We would like to be able to fit transmitters on the coming seasons NBG eaglets. It will be primarily a money issue. The transmitters cost about $4,000 each and the satellite time about $2,100 per year for the 3 year life of the solar battery. Of the $6,300 cost of the satellite time for Azalea, CCB has so far raised $3,100 – less than half.

i really enjoy the reports we get about our girl. looks like she is doing well,i wish we could get reports each day,but i understand why we cann’t. the cost of the transmitters and the satellite for azalea,put the word out there,i know the public will help,this year and next year.we all enjoy azalea and would like to keep up with her and her future brothers and sisters. god bless azalea. with colder weather coming in soon,will she be ok? thanks again.

thanks for the reply reese. wow, 5 yrs!! good to know that the parents are still around NBG! this maybe a silly question but I simply don’t know the answer. Do eagles migrate south like some other birds?? Now, for the issue on transmitters for the future eaglets, for all of us who enjoy this bit of nature, answers to our questions, and the desire to follow all the babies for next year, perhaps we could dig deep into our pockets for donations and pass it on to our family and friends to donate as well! It’s easy and you can do it on line!!

chris7 – The new regulations you refer to are necessary to clarify the management rules with respect to bald and golden eagles. These two species face very different situations. The golden eagle population is at best staying level. The bald eagle population in the lower 48 states on the other hand has recovered significantly from about 500 pair in 1963 to approximately 9,800 pair in 2006. During the same time period our human population has nearly doubled to almost 300 million. Bald eagles are finding it much more difficult to find their typical rural breeding territorities. As a result they are locating in populated places like Norfolk Botanical Garden, which is right next to a busy international airport. This is requiring wildlife management agencies to create new rules for both the benefit of the eagles and man.

Thanks Reese. Looks like it goes back to the basic problem of competition for habitat among the eagles and human encroachment into their habitat…

How do we contribute to the “transmitter fund?”

Jo – You can become an Azalea “adoptor” at
also at
Thank you for your support

So Reese,
Suppose that members adopt a chick? Make the donation
‘affordable’. Perhaps schools across the nation could adopt and follow a chick? Wouldn’t that be cool? They could name the chick and watch the progress, and hopefully raise enough money to trak the chick after fledging!

Adoption levels are $25, $50 and $100. Your choice as to what is affordable for you.