Statement from Dr. Fred Alsop Regarding Noshi, the Missing Eagle
Noshi is missing! These are the first words I heard from our chief EagleCam monitor, Michelle France, more than 10 days ago. Our male Bald Eagle from our well-established nesting pair in Washington County, Tennessee, had been missing since mid-afternoon on Friday, April 24th. Noshi and Shima had two big, growing 7 week-old chicks in the nest as this event occurred. Our Eagle Nation volunteers spend several days searching by foot, car and other means looking for our missing eagle. News was carried in our local newspaper, The Johnson City Press, and on our Johnson City WJHL TV station asking for any information that might lead to the discovery of Noshi’s whereabouts, or what may have happened to him.
In the meantime, a floater adult male Bald Eagle appeared at the nest site and this intruder’s presence also distracted Shima’s attempts to forage and provide food for the nestlings as a single parent. The good news is as of yesterday, May 4th, it seems that Shima has started to accept the new male in her territory, they are flying together, and she allows him perch in the top of the nest tree while she is out hunting. She is bringing in plenty of fish for JC15 & JC16, so things are not back to normal, but they are most definitely looking up!
The federal guidelines for live-streaming eagle cameras like ours come with many restrictions with the safety of the eagles their foremost consideration. We have had to agree to all of these in order to bring our live-streaming of our two local breeding eagle pairs to our eagle watchers for 5 consecutive years. One of these caveats is that there can be no human disturbance at an active Bald Eagle nest. This prevents us from doing anything in the vicinity of the nest, the nest tree, or the immediate area from the time the adults return to the nest site and begin adding sticks to their nest from previous seasons through the time the juvenile birds have fledged the nest for good.
We discussed possible plans to assist the nestlings, including perhaps removing them from the nest and placing them in a hack tower where they might continue to grow and mature until fledgling if Shima seemed to not be up to the task of providing for them. We did contact the American Eagle Federation to seek assistance and they were most willing to render it provided we had permission from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to remove the birds. We had a generous financial offer from a long-time supporter to pay for such a relocation project. I discussed this all with the Southeastern Regional Eagle Biologist for the USF&WS and was told that their position of no human interference would have to be upheld. This is the policy we agreed to from the very beginning, and I did not expect the Service to permit any special waiver for us to interfere with a natural event. We will have to watch what often happens in nature when some unforeseen event, such as our missing male bird, takes place. We now have the opportunity not afforded to many; to actually watch what our adult female will do to try to continue to raise her chicks alone, what the role of the new male in the area will become, and how all of this will turn out. As we have stated from the beginning of our live-streaming; this is a real reality show, and we may watch it play out from the comfort of our homes as live TV, but we cannot, and will not interfere with it.
I wish to thank all of our great volunteers and our eagle watchers for their concern, their thoughtful suggestions on this matter, and the hours they spent in the field searching for Noshi. I also am grateful to the American Eagle Foundation for their offered assistance, to our sponsor for the generous offer of support, and to the US Fish & Wildlife Service for their role in our entire project over the past 5 years. I also ask everyone’s understanding of all our decisions, as difficult as they may seem, and for your continued support of our live-streaming EagleCam Project. Without you, and all that you do, this educational project would never have happened. Please continue to enjoy the lives of our magnificent birds.
Dr. Fred J. Alsop III
Director, ETSU/Biological Sciences EagleCam Project.