Our Baby Eagles
Two young Bald Eagles were released in Grafton, NY Friday
August 15, 2003 at the Bird Paradise in Grafton NY
Two young Bald Eagles will be released in Grafton, NY Friday
August 15, 2003 at the Bird Paradise in Grafton NY
By The Troy Record
These Bald Eagles are the offspring of two permanently disabled parents hatched in May 2003. Peter Dubacher director of Berkshire Bird Paradise said we are very proud of our near impossible accomplishment.
Our young American Bald Eagle named Hope. She is thinking about her new freedom
Our 13 weeks old Bald Eagle is testing her wings and getting ready to fly
“I don’t recall any Bald Eagles bred in captivity in New York prior to this,” says Dr. Ward Stone, who for 34 years has served as Wildlife Pathologist for the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and who was the first scientist to identify West Nile Virus. “Only a couple of hundred of these birds exist in New York. There is a very small buffer between this number and extinction,” he adds. “Captive breeding programs may be an answer; they’re likely to be needed in the future. Peter Dubacher’s notes on caring for these birds would be invaluable for this.”
Dr.Ward Stone refers to the Berkshire Bird Paradise’s Peter Dubacher as “The Mother Teresa of birds,” since for decades “he has taken in all kinds of birds that people are throwing away, and the wind up with him for a lifetime.” Even the good zoos want only perfect specimens, he explains. The birds Peter rescues – some missing all or a portion of a wing, some blind, some missing a leg – would never survive in the wild. “Peter is selfless, always looking out for the welfare of his animals, even above his own welfare, and he has been doing this for decades,” Dr. Stone adds. This is not a fly-by-night operation.
Although 17 eagles (both Golden and Bald) reside at the Berkshire Bird Paradise, not counting the recent hatchlings or the prospective offspring from two other nesting pairs, they are not the sole residents. The sanctuary currently houses more the 2,000 birds, including more than 100 species. Emus, Sandhill cranes, parrots, and macaws reside there, as owner’s tire of these exotic species. More mundane species to be seen there include swans crows, pigeons – including the white pigeons released at weddings and funerals and then forgotten – and chickens also find a shelter there. A New York City policewoman recently dropped off a small flock of chicks she had found in a garbage can, a discarded Easter gift.
The Berkshire Bird Paradise is open to the public for visits from May 24 until autumn. An admission fee is requested of visitors. Directions and information about the sanctuary are available by telephone, at 1-518-279-3801, or at the sanctuary’s web site: www.birdparadise.org
Peter Dubacher, owner of the Berkshire Bird Paradise, holds two one-month old eagles. The birds were born at the Bird Paradise Sanctuary.
Said to be impossible to breed Eagles in captivity, birds born at sanctuary.
By Kelly Vadey – the Record
Grafton – Berkshire Bird Paradise is celebrating two new arrivals.
The sanctuary has a population of 2,000 birds and is home to 12 permanently disabled American Bald Eagles. In early May, two baby eagles joined the family. “To have two baby eagles is significant, because it’s not generally done in captivity.,” said Director Peter Dubacher. Three eagles were hatched, but one died within the first 24 hours. Dubacher is licensed through the state Department of Environmental and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to breed captive eagles. The aviculturalist has been raising birds for 30 years. “Fifteen years ago, they told me it was impossible to breed in captivity.”
Dubacher proved authorities wrong. In 2003, he hatched and released two American Bald Eagles locally. One died when it landed on an electrical transmitter, “That’s common even of birds that are born in the wild,”’ he said.
The other is still alive to his knowledge and has been sighted in Averill Park NY. Both eagles were tracked by radio for a year.
He is 80 percent sure one chick is a girl and the other is a boy.. The new chicks hatched two days apart. The older bird is heavy, weighing in at about five pounds. Weight is generally an indication of gender. Larger birds are usually female. The younger bird now weighs about three pounds. They are both starting to grow feathers.
The American Bald Eagle was placed on the endangered species list in the 1970s. Successful conservation methods such as the banning DDT and eagle hunting led to a classification change of “threatened.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will release the birds on Lake Champlain in July. This plan is the result of the Vermont Bald Eagle Restoration Imitative. The purpose of the program is to bring breeding American Eagles into Vermont.
The babies will be placed in a “hack box” or man-made nest above the lake. “They’re fed discreetly so they don’t equate food with humans,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Michael Amaral.
The chicks will stay in the enclosed box for three to four weeks. It is opened for them to fly away when the chicks are about seven weeks old. Food will be provided for them near the box through the summer while they learn to hunt for themselves.
Dubachers’ birds are the first from New York to take part in the Vermont Initiative. In 2004, the program’s first year, brought eight birds. Two pairs of wild chicks from both Maine and Maryland, as well as three form a captive faculty in Massachusetts, were released. These birds were not tracked electronically, but did have color bands. One died of natural causes near Christmas. The others are thought to be alive.
Amaral said he is not sure if Dubacher’s birds will be tracked by radio. He said captive chicks and those taken from wild nest have an equal chance of surviving. “Both groups go through this hacking program and need to learn to feed themselves,” he said. More information about the Vermont program can be found at: cvps.com/eagles. The site provides a live “eaglecam” of the hack box.
Dubachers’ baby eagles are not displayed for public viewing. It is important they are not affected by human influence before their release. He does photograph the chick daily for the public. The sanctuary is located near Grafton Lakes State Park in NY. More information is available at birdparadise.org
Baby Bald Eaglet three weeks old