LOUISIANA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE

REPORT FORM

     This form is intended as a convenience in reporting observations of species on the Louisiana Bird Records Committee (LBRC) Review List. The LBRC recommends the use of this form or a similar format when submitting records for review (to assure that all pertinent information is accounted for). Attach additional pages as necessary. Please print or type. Attach xerox of field notes, drawings, photographs, or tape recordings, if available. Include all photos for more obscurely marked species. When completed, mail to Secretary, Louisiana Bird Records Committee, c/o Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-3216.

1. English and Scientific names: Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage):

1 adult.

3. Locality: Parish: Morehouse

Specific Locality: Upper Ouachita NWR - Mollicy Unit

4. Date(s) when observed: December 28, 2013

 

5. Time(s) of day when observed: 10:20am

 

6. Reporting observer and address: John Dillon, 183 Dance Road, Athens, LA 71003

 

7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): Gerry Click and Tim Keyes

 

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s): Gerry Click and Tim Keyes.

 

9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Bird was flying over open ag field with no trees or any other obstruction. Overcast sky but not dark, plenty of light to ID birds. No rain or mist.

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition): Alpen 8x42 bins, good condition. Bushnell 20-60x scope, good condition.

 

11. Distance to bird(s): Im terrible at guessing distances, but it was probably about 220 yards away when we first saw it. It turned north, going farther away at a slight angle to us, then turned west toward us to a distance of about 250 yards or so. Later, when it flew away to the tree line and perched, it was probably 350 yards or so.

 

12. Duration of observation: probably 25 minutes.

 

13. Habitat: large expanse of open ag land surrounded by forest.

 

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation): When we saw the bird, it was flying over a flock of a few thousand Snow Geese and some Greater White-fronted Geese. It made long, slow passes over the fields for probably 5-8 minutes and then flew away from us to perch in the top of a tree.

 

15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species):

 

Huge, bulky, eagle-sized raptor. Far too large to be any kind of buteo. An American Crow flew near to harass it at one point and was dwarfed; may as well have been a sparrow. Generally, the bird was dark brown overall. It was fairly high up, but when it occasionally banked, you could see through the scope the slightly paler, buffier areas about the midpoint of the upper side of the wings. When it turned west, angled toward us, you could see the buffier tones of the head. Could also see slight wedge shape in the tail. NO white patches anywhere, on belly, head, back, or wings. Beak also appeared dark, could see no light or yellow tones. Primaries and secondaries all dark, perhaps only slightly less dark than rest of wings. Huge fingers. Held wings in dihedral when not flapping. Wings were broad, not the 2x4 look of BAEA wings. Wing beats were slow and powerful. We were pretty sure early on it was GOEA, but we waited until we could see details in the scope like its wings held in a dihedral and no white on the body or wings when it turned in the light.

 

16. Voice: N/A.

 

17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):

 

The only real contenders for confusion would be subadult Bald Eagle or Turkey Vulture because the huge size eliminated all other North American raptors that show up in the East. Subadult Bald Eagle would have shown white patches on the belly, back, head, wings, and/or tail, depending on age. This bird had no white anywhere, only buffy, slightly contrasting paler patches on the wing. I heard Gerry say he saw the lighter base of the tail later, but I never had a look that would allow me to notice that much detail; certainly wasnt literally white, though because that would have stood out. BAEA also has narrower wings held flat and straight out from the body when soaring. This birds wings were broader near the body like a buteos wings, just much, much larger. Turkey Vulture is eliminated because of basic shape, but specifically because there was no great contrast between the flight feathers and the rest of the wings. The head was also much larger and dark, not red and bare.

 

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): Photos. Attached with email.

 

19. Previous experience with this species: Have seen and photographed a few times in Colorado, always observed in flight.

 

20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

 

a. at time of observation: None. We already knew the field marks on this species and any other species that could be confused with it.

 

b. after observation: Nat Geo 6th ed. and Sibley, just to make sure what we saw matched.

 

21. This description is written from: _____ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); __X___memory.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: Yes, definitely.

 

23. Date: December 31, 2013 Time: 1:10pm.

 

24. May the LBRC have permission to display this report or
portions of this report on its website? Yes.

If yes, may we include your name with the report? Yes.

 

 

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