The bird’s large size suggests it was female; its coloring indicates it was much younger than the breeding pairs whose nests are shown on local webcams. The euthanized bird was about to enter its first breeding season.
“It still had some dark markings on the beak and on the head and on the tail. It still had actually some of its juvenile, immature feathers, so it hadn’t fully molted into a full adult yet,” said biologist Dan Rauch with the D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment.
Monsma said the bird’s remains will be given to federal officials, who will collect and send the feathers to Native American tribes for ceremonial uses.
“Keep an eye on the other two nests,” Rauch said. “I’m hoping the Arboretum pair will lay anytime. She’s always a little on the late side, which is about now, mid-March. And, hopefully, the other pair at the police academy will recycle and she’ll lay eggs again.”
It’s certainly been a drama-filled season for the region’s bald eagles — from rejected and new suitors and abandoned eggs, to the rescue of the injured bird that Metro accommodated by single-tracking operations for hours between the Morgan Boulevard and Addison Road stations on the Blue and Silver lines.
Rauch added Thursday that he spotted the first osprey to return to the city, another sign of the renewed vibrancy of the local ecosystem. The birds migrate each year and winter in South America. Osprey have nests all along the Anacostia River.
“They usually arrive almost every year on March 15, so it’s a day early. But we’ll take it,” Rauch said.
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