The Story of a Band Return Report

Gladys talksA banded adult female bald eagle was transferred to SOAR from another Iowa wildlife rehabilitator on 13 May 2024. The next day, an email came in with a bird band encounter report for this eagle. As I read the report, it noted the location of the band encounter (the eagle’s rescue location), the reporter, and when and where this bird was banded.

I read the date and location — 27 September 2017 near Knoxville in Marion County, Iowa — I had this feeling that we knew this bird. I dug into my bald eagle records and found this bird. She has a backstory!

But first… why did she need rescuing? This bald eagle was found alongside a road in NW Lucas County (IA), very weak, and not able to fly away. This eagle was taken to the wildlife rehabilitator in the neighboring county.

On admit to SOAR she weighed 8.75 lbs and she had something wrapped around her tongue. She was emaciated. The sinewy something was removed from her tongue and blood was drawn for a lead test. The blood lead test said that she had subclinical lead levels.

She has already gained half a pound.

She still has a long road to full recovery.

Now her backstory from her patient record on 5 June 2017

A Marion County eagle enthusiast watches several raptor nests around Lake Red Rock. She got word to SOAR friend Marla that the Gladys Black Eagle (GBE) camera nest tree was broken and the nest is on the ground. No one is exactly sure when this event happened as when the nest tree leafs out, it is hard to see the nest from IA-14. Marla knew there were eaglets in the nest and thought only two. Marla stopped early the morning of the 5th to assess the situation. She kept her distance so as to not disturb any adult eagles nearby.

This is an established pair of eagles that nested in this tree in the 2011 season… they built a new nest in 2012 about 1/2 mile away as the eagle flies, but returned to using the ‘original’ nest in 2015 after the nearby nest tree blew down. This pair has defended territory for over seven years. Since there had not been any weather events in the week leading up to the discovery of the downed nest AND considering the size of this cottonwood… we’re suspecting that part of the tree simply collapsed.

What Marla found was one young eagle on a lower limb in the nest tree. As she quietly scouted further, she noticed another eaglet in the corn field. This one appeared to be favoring one wing, and did not fly away when approached. The only way to assess if rescue was needed was to rescue… so that’s what she and Marion CCB Park Technician Alex did!


Gladys rescue






Next for Gladys, a USGS Band

SOAR prefers to release hatch-of-the-year eagles with an adult.

It was estimated that the HY17 eaglet dubbed “Gladys” would be ready to go at the same time as an adult rescued in Palo Alto County, Iowa. This adult was already sporting a USGS bird band and entered rehabilitation with a GPS transmitter. This adult was part of a US Fish & Wildlife Service bald eagle telemetry study. Per USFWS direction, the transmitter was removed and battery turned off for the rehabilitation time. When this adult bald eagle was ready for release, the USFWS biologist would make a new Teflon ribbon backpack harness for the transmitter. The biologist offered to band the HY17 eaglet to be released with the adult. That eaglet was “Gladys.”

banding data sheet