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E-M:/ Bald eagles serve as ecological barometer

Bald eagles serve as ecological barometer
Nice timing with this E. Sharp article. On Wednesday, 3/24, I was fortunate to be invited to be with Bill Bowerman and crew at a new White Lake (Muskegon Co) eagle nest site. It turned out that our nesting pair did not produce eggs in 2006, but we found a turtle in the nest. They did find a feather to match up DNA plus they took data on tree, nest, etc.. A spotter plane came in low several times taking photos of the nest while we waved below. The parent eagles just flew around us. Wednesday afternoon they checked another nest at Mona Lake and did band one eaglet about six weeks old. I enjoyed this great experience to watch and take photos. Thank you to the eagle research crew.

Bald eagles serve as ecological barometer

"Bald eagles are great indicators of environmental health," said Bill Bowerman, a Munising native who earned his doctorate at Michigan State and is now a professor of wildlife ecology and toxicology at Clemson in South Carolina. For more than 20 years, Bowerman has used eagles like supersized canaries, explaining: "By looking at contaminants in eagles, we can get a handle on what's happening with chemicals like dioxins and mercury in inland lakes and the Great Lakes, because most of their diet is fish."

Bowerman, who does eagle research around the world, visits Michigan each summer to get blood and feather samples from various parts of the state. The work is funded by a grant from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality through the Clean Michigan Initiative.