American Bald Eagle Foundation
May 2020
Sitka the FEMALE Red-Tailed Hawk
In most raptor species, males and females look identical. While female raptors generally are larger, body size can vary widely between individuals. Blood testing is one of the only ways to know for certain whether a red-tailed hawk is a male or a female.

Sitka, an Alaskan sub-species of red-tailed hawk on our team, has historically been called a male since joining our team in 2010. This month, ten years later, Sitka surprised staff by laying an egg (followed shortly by a second and third egg) proving she is, in fact, a female! She is housed alone in her aviary so the egg is not fertile, but she has built a nest and spends her days sitting carefully on her eggs. Although staff is surprised, this is a great sign that Sitka feels safe and comfortable in her environment. We are proud to see Sitka taking to this new behavior so naturally, and look forward to the future when guests can observe this behavior up close.
Business as (Un)usual at the ABEF
Current global events have changed the shape of our daily lives over the past few months. As our newsletter last month described, staff has been working from home while the ABEF has been closed to the public. Social distancing has created its own set of challenges, but also creates opportunities to complete current projects and explore new ones in the museum and raptor center.

Executive Director Cheryl McRoberts has dived enthusiastically into grant applications to maintain ABEF operations through a difficult financial year to come. In the museum, Curator of Collections Katie Dickerson is continuing to create new interpretation for the diorama room specimens while also creating the new ABEF-at-home series and posting regularly to social media. In the raptor center, training has continued with staff focusing on solidifying husbandry behaviors with all the ambassadors such as voluntary crating and nail trimming. Program Coordinator Josh Sanko has been keeping in touch with ABEF sponsors and members through the monthly newsletter and email updates. As much as things have changed, we are grateful that we can continue to provide our ambassadors as well as the museum specimens with high quality care and remain in touch with our supporters.
Ali Gustavson Promoted to Full-Time Staff
Ali Gustavson, 2019 intern with the Foundation, has joined our team as a s full-time staff person. Originally selected for a seasonal internship from May to September of 2019, she accepted an extension of her internship to May of 2020 shortly after arriving. With the cancellation of our internship program this year, Ali has been asked to stay and take on more responsibility.

Interns at the ABEF get a personal education in the natural history museum and raptor center, with the small staff allowing for one-on-one explanation and training. Ali has taken full advantage of asking questions and seeking knowledge throughout her time here, and staff has watched her grow as an educator and trainer. Her adaptability to new situations and enthusiasm for the work the ABEF does have made her a fantastic intern and we look forward to being a part of the next step in her career!
Animal Training 101
Before the onset of stay-at-home orders, the Haines Public Library was hosting a series of how-to events to bring new skills to Haines residents. In the spirit of adapting to this new norm, Raptor Program Manager Sidney Campbell taught Haines residents the basics of positive reinforcement in training their pets this past month in a Zoom webinar.

Although Campbell specializes in training raptors, she is also a pet owner and uses the same skills to train her dog Eider, and cat Bleu. The webinar gave locals a foundation in the science of positive reinforcement as well as real-world skills to apply with their own pets. Thank you to the Haines Public Library for continuing to make free, fun education available by whatever means possible!
Virtual Birding Cup
Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center (SCEC) in Pennsylvania has an annual Birding Cup, a fun and educational fundraiser. This 24-hour competition has teams competing to see how many species of bird they can find in a selected geographical category. They have adapted to the current situation by making the Birding Cup virtual.

The ABEF has a close connection with Shaver’s Creek, with Ali Gustavson and Program Coordinator, Josh Sanko, both working there in the past and SCEC Raptor Program Coordinator Abby Flanders being a previous intern at ABEF. With the Birding Cup being accessible to anyone in the world this year, ABEF joined the festivities to show our support and enjoy the outdoors. Over the 24 hours, the staff explored the Haines area to see how many species they could spot. In the end, 49 species were viewed, which may not be the top number among participants, but seemed to be fitting as Alaska is the 49 th state. Thank you Shaver’s Creek for making this year’s cup possible and for helping us have some fun outside!
Species Spotlight: Orca ( Orcinus orca )
The orca is a toothed whale belonging to the dolphin family. This marine mammal can reach over 30 feet in length and weigh 6 tons or more. They are black with characteristic white above the eye, behind the dorsal fin, and along their underside.

This species hunts and lives in a group called a pod, made of a female and her young from previous years. They have a varied diet from fish, squid, penguins, and seals, as well as other aquatic vertebrates and use the pod to think of creative ways to catch prey. The orca can be found throughout all oceans but prefer colder waters and can be found throughout the Pacific surrounding Alaska.
Sponsors, members, and other donors are vital to continuing high quality operations at this facility. When you sponsor an avian ambassador at the ABEF, your donation goes directly towards their continued care while they live and work as educators here. By clicking the SUPPORT THE ABEF! tab below, you will be taken to our website and be able to explore the ways in which you can become connected to the ABEF's future.   113 Haines Highway Haines, AK 99827 907.766.3094