Alligator River/Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge
P. O. Box 1969
Manteo, North Carolina 27954

Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131

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News Release

January 14, 2010

One one side of fence, Bryan holding up the Eage, on the other side of the fence - people with cameras taking pictures of the Eagle
Dr. Bryan Watts, Center for Conservation Biology, showing Azalea to the public on May 20, 2009.

Juvenile Bald Eagle Chooses OBX as Winter Home

It's not an unusual occurrence for people from points north to travel to the Outer Banks to avoid the ice and snow of winter. It appears a juvenile bald eagle named Azalea had the same idea.

Azalea was first spotted near Sawyer Lake on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge on January 4th by Tom and Grif Crews. The father/son team was having a day of "play" on the refuge when they saw the eagle. Crews explained, "She seemed pretty wild as she flew off when we got within 150 yards." A few days later, the refuge received an email from Reese Lukei, Research Associate with the Center for Conservation Biology at William and Mary alerting them that one of the juvenile bald eagles they were tracking was on the refuge. "I posted a new satellite map for Azalea as of 10am Jan 6 on my blog site At that time she was on the NE section of South Lake. She has spent most of her time flying back and forth across Rt 64 between South Lake and Sawyer Lake. She made one long but brief flight toward Whipping Creek Lake on the afternoon of Jan 3," the note said.

Azalea was hatched at the Norfolk Botanical Garden in Norfolk, VA on March 22, 2009. Her egg had been laid on February 13. On April 22, she and her nest mates/siblings, a brother and younger sister, were banded with standard U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service leg bands.

When the birds began to show indications they were ready to fly, they were fitted with satellite transmitters so their movements could be tracked. Azalea fledged on June 13 and left her natal area on August 21.

"Azalea made two brief trips into Currituck County, NC on Aug 17/18 and on Dec 16. Other than that she remained in Virginia until her direct flight Jan 2, 2010 from Gloucester County, VA to South Lake in Alligator River NWR. She is still there as of the morning of Jan 12," said Lukei.

Staff on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge were excited to have Azalea visit the refuge. Visitor Services Manager Bonnie Strawser commented, "This type of wildlife sitting allows us to connect so many aspects of wildlife management at the landscape level. Biologists and managers accepted long ago that we cannot manage wildlife refuges as independent places- we have to look at wildlife habitat at the landscape level. Critters move around. And, they don't read the signs when they're choosing where to go! It's no accident Azalea chose a national wildlife refuge for one of her first adventures."

"Having Azalea here encourages our community to follow her movements. Once we start to follow even one bird moving across the landscape, it teaches us so much about the importance of wild places and wildlife corridors, and it helps us remember to always look at the big picture. If we have perfect habitat for bald eagles at Alligator River, but every other place provides them nothing, we will eventually loose bald eagles. Landscape level planning is absolutely necessary for wildlife conservation," Strawser said.

The web sites are related to the nesting pair of bald eagles at Norfolk Botanical Garden. is a William & Mary blog site maintained by Lutei to follow the travels of Azalea is a William & Mary blog site that records the 2010 nesting season at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens is a live bald eagle cam site activated Jan 13, 2010 to follow the daily lives of the eagles nesting at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. In 2007, it was selected as one of the best wildlife live web cams in the world. is a forum site dedicated to the Norfolk Botanical Gardens eagles. is a Seaturtle web site that tracks the flight of Azalea

"Following Azalea's movements would be a great project for classes in local schools," added Strawser. "If children follow her movements at school, they'll want to visit the refuge to see her in person!"

Map shows Azelea traveled 1761km in 238 days

Map showing Azalea's travels since she learned to fly in Norfolk on June 13, 2009. Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Services Manager, Bonnie Strawser, commented, "I hope area classrooms will begin to follow Azalea's travels online. Following her movements would be a great school project. Hopefully, if children follow her movements at school, they'll want to visit the refuge to see her in person!" Map credit:

Libby kneeling behind bald eagle, fitting him with transmitter.Close up of Libby's hands fastening the transmitter onto the eagle
Azalea with her satellite transmitter being fitted by Libby Mojica, Wildlife Biologist at Center for Conservation Biology. Photo credit: Reese Lukei, Jr.