Several environmental and wildlife researchers believe that if you give a specific bird a name, people are more invested in its welfare. They will, therefore, transfer the caring from the named bird to wanting to create a more sustainable environment for them and, thus, all wildlife.
I am not totally convinced that a ‘name’ makes a difference (but if it does, I am all for it!). Those who watched White-Bellied Sea Eaglet 26 (WBSE 26) hatch, grow, and overcome her physical challenges to fly would not have cared any more for her if she had a name. It has been six months since she died and all it takes is for one of ‘our bird group’ to simply say ’26’ and we ‘see’ her. Maybe it is when she was with Maggie the Magpie honking at the Pied Currawongs. Or perhaps it is the little bobble head with WBSE 25. Maybe it is the last image of her with the sun gently caressing the side of her face. I will argue that it would not have mattered more if 26 had a name and not a number. The donations and the strong feels of wanting to help in some way came regardless.
Many successful birds are known by a number or band colour or a name or – all three. Followers of Wisdom, the oldest banded Laysan Albatross in the world, know she wears a red band with the number Z333. They also know her by her name. It is equally true that we might not know the other Laysans whose nests are near to Wisdom’s on the Midland Atoll and that is because Wisdom or Red-Z333 is special. She is the oldest living banded bird in the world and at the age of seventy, she just hatched another moli.
If you have any thoughts one way or the other, I would love to hear from you.
One of the ‘Name the Bald Eaglet’ contests has just ended. At the time of its birth, the eaglet born to Samson and Gabby in 2021 on the Northeast Florida nest was given a number – N24. Today, N24 received a name —- Legacy.
The public were invited to submit potential names. Out of those the list was narrowed down to six. Then members of the American Eagle Foundation voted for their favourite name on the list. 266 people voted for Legacy over the other five names. It is a good symbolic choice for this nest. Legacy is the grandchild of Romeo and Juliet. That mated pair were first seen on this very nest on 3 September 2009. The couple raised nineteen eaglets to fledge – they were 100% successful. During the 2018-19 season, Juliet was injured by an intruder and left the nest area. Romeo was ultimately unable to do the work for two even though he tried very hard to succeed. This included incubating the remaining egg, hunting for food to feed the one that hatched and himself, and the protection of the nest. When Romeo was away hunting, on Christmas Day 2018, a female intruder snatched the just hatched eaglet from the nest and ate it. Romeo consequently left the nest area. Neither Romeo or Juliet have been seen since and it is presumed, by many, that both are dead.
Samson is the son of Romeo and Juliet. He was born on this same nest on 23 December 2013. Samson returned to his natal nest on 26 August 2019, taking over the territory his father, Romeo, once ruled. Samson was ‘courted’ by many females but he chose his current mate, Gabrielle or Gabby for short. Their first breeding season was 2019-20. The pair fledged N22 and N23 – Jules and Romy – named after the grandparents. This year only one of two eggs was viable. The eaglet was given the number N24. N24 carries on the legacy of Romeo and Juliet. It is a sentimental choice but a very good one out of the other possible six choices.
The other news is that Legacy has overcome Avian Pox. The lesions are almost completely dried up. Pin feathers are coming in all over the little one’s body and it spends much of its time preening. Those feathers must be awfully itchy!
Another sweet little eaglet is waiting for a name. This one resides in the KNF – Kisatchie National Forest in Central Louisiana. The public submissions of names is now closed. A committee will narrow down those to a list of three. I understand that a number of individuals have suggested names associated with Caroline Dormon, the woman who led the reforestation of the area after all of the trees had been cut down for timber early in the twentieth century. Voting for the final name will take place from 11-16 March with the announcement of ‘the name’ on St. Patrick’s Day.
This little eaglet has grown like a bad weed. Once the chick was no longer bobbling its head and learned to grab food hard with its beak and once mom figured out how to hold her beak (sideways), there was nothing stopping this little one from growing. That growth is helped by a dad who simply cannot stop catching fish and delivering them to the nest. Someone counted twelve today! Twelve fish. Not just for the baby – mom likes to eat, too! There must be a fabulous source of food nearby for this lucky family.