Sustain Our Nation's Forests and Grasslands

Eagles journey began on the Chippewa

Photo: Archival black white photo of young eagle with a band on its leg sitting in a nest
Taken June of 1970 after young bald eagles had been banded on the Chippewa National Forest. Forest Service photo.

MINNESOTA – The remains of an American bald eagle was found near Baudette, Minn. This bird began its journey on the Chippewa National Forest many years prior.

In January, the Minnesota DNR notified the Forest that a banded American bald eagle had been found dead. Joe Jordan, Forest wildlife biologist, took the information he was given and searched for more information on eagle number 629-13139. According to Matt Rogosky with the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory in Laurel, Md., the eagle was banded on June 20, 1984, near Winnibigoshish Lake, Minn., on the Chippewa National Forest.

“That's a very old eagle at about 33 years, the oldest longevity on record is 38 years old,” said Rogosky.

Bird banding is a universal and indispensable technique for studying the movement, survival and behavior of birds. The North American Bird Banding Program is jointly administered by the USGS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Their respective banding offices have similar functions and policies and use the same bands, reporting forms and data formats. Joint coordination of the program dates back to 1923. As of Jan. 29, 2018 and since 1960, the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory has received more than 64 million banding records. The eagle was found dead in the road ditch, so it is assumed its death was caused by road collision. Finding this eagle is proof that collaboration efforts between federal, state and private entities to preserve the eagle populations at a time when they were most vulnerable are succeeding in bringing them back from years of decline.

Since the inception of the North American Bird Banding Program, the BBL has received more than four million encounter records. Band reports must be submitted through the mobile-friendly website, A report requires only around five minutes to complete online. After a report is submitted, the date and location where the bird was originally banded are provided and a certificate of appreciation along with additional banding details (date, banding location) are sent via email. Capturing and banding birds requires considerable effort, and documenting recovery or re-sighting of banded birds is essential to profit from that effort. Band recovery data are the basis for improving the conservation and knowledge of bird populations in North America.