American Bald Eagle Foundation                     October 2017

(e)agle newsletter   113 Haines Highway Haines, AK 99827 907.766.3094
Countdown to the Alaska Bald Eagle Festival
Eagles gather on the Chilkat river
It’s that time again! The Alaska Bald Eagle Festival is just around the corner, and preparations are in full swing. Each year, ABEF hosts a week-long event in celebration of the eagles who come to the Chilkat River. The unique hydrogeology of the Chilkat prevents part of the river from freezing, even during the coldest winter days. Eagles depend on late salmon runs to prepare for the onset of winter, and salmon remain available to eagles late into the year on the Chilkat when other rivers in Alaska have frozen over. The late runs of chum and coho salmon on the Chilkat River attract one of the largest congregations of bald eagles in North America-- eagles come from all over to have access to this valuable resource. Each year, between two and four thousand bald eagles gather on a five-mile stretch of water at the confluence of the Chilkat and Tsirku Rivers near Haines.
In addition to some fantastic eagle viewing, the Foundation has many events planned to highlight science, conservation, culture, and community. The week culminates with the release of a rehabilitated bald eagle, followed by our annual fundraiser and banquet. Check out the full schedule on our website , and stay tuned next month for photos from this spectacular event!
Museums Alaska Conference 2017
Advocacy vs neutrality in museums
This past month our museum curator, Katelyn, attended the 2017 Annual Museums Alaska Conference in Anchorage. As one of six recipients of the 2017 Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund scholarship, Katelyn was able to experience Anchorage, develop her professional skills, and network. The theme of this year’s conference revolved around social discourse in public institutions, specifically how museums and other organizations discuss controversial topics. Conference-goers delved into the idea of neutrality versus advocacy. Is there such a thing as neutrality? How can an organization be neutral when it and its materials are created by humans, who are inherently biased?
During the keynote address and several other break-off sessions, Katelyn and her fellow conference attendees grappled with these ideas. The keynote speaker, Sean Kelly, spoke about his time working at the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. His twenty-year struggle to balance his personal, professional, and institutional opinions on difficult subjects such as mass incarceration, diversity, and human rights shaped both his life and the message of the historical site. His slow progression towards advocacy was continually supported, much to his surprise. Visitors wanted the museum to tackle these controversial topics, and, as research showed, felt cheated when the organization tempered its message.
As a whole, the conference helped Katelyn reconsider her role as a professional working within a museum and how she should be exhibiting, interpreting, and programming for public audiences. Along with stretching her mind, she found a great deal of support amongst other museum professionals and boosted her enthusiasm for her field and the potential of the American Bald Eagle Foundation.
Training Update: checking in with the ABEF avian ambassadors
Here at the Foundation, all 11 of the resident birds have a tailored training program which is a big part of their lives every day. Training serves many different purposes in enriching the life of a bird who lives with us, from husbandry and exercise to show behaviors. Trainers begin by establishing a solid and trusting relationship with a bird before starting to build basic behaviors. No matter what the behavior, the bird is in control of deciding whether or not to participate, and they are always rewarded for doing so. Our team is currently working on some interesting and exciting behaviors, and we wanted to highlight a few of them:
Max is a merlin who is trained to move around his enclosure when asked. Cleaning his enclosure is necessary, but sometimes a bit stressful for him. In order to reduce this stress, we have trained Max to get into a crate on cue and wait inside with the door closed so we can move him somewhere quiet while his enclosure gets cleaned. This way, Max is in control of the situation and is removed from a stressful scenario.
Arden is a bald eagle who has recently learned to step onto a glove and walk around in her enclosure. She steps up confidently when asked, and stands calmly waiting for her next reward. In the coming days, her trainer will begin to introduce safety equipment so that she can eventually make appearances outside of her enclosure.
Hunter is a barred owl whose beak tends to grow very quickly. Twice a year, we do medical exams which involve trimming the birds’ beaks down, but Hunter’s beak grows more quickly than the others’ and needs more frequent trimming. Because this is a stressful experience for the birds, we have started teaching Hunter to feak his beak on cue. Feaking is when a bird rubs their beak on a surface to clean it. In the wild, this is often done on rough natural surfaces which help keep their beaks in good shape. Once Hunter learns to feak on cue consistently, we plan to introduce a pumice stone which should reduce the need to trim his beak so often.
ABEF Staff Rocks Cooking Competition
Bald eagles, conservation... cooking competition? This month some of the staff from the American Bald Eagle Foundation competed in a local cooking fundraiser for Lynn Canal Conservation. The fundraiser was based on the hit culinary improvisation television show, “Chopped”. If you haven't seen Chopped before, chefs are pitted against each other and are given a 'mystery basket' with many different (and often absurd) ingredients that they have to incorporate into a dish. The fundraiser had six teams that were all given the same mystery ingredients and competed to plan and cook a salmon-based meal with a side dish.
The American Bald Eagle Foundation staff, modeling their raptor training attire, went to the fundraiser with the hopes to raise money for a good cause and to dazzle people with raptor facts throughout the evening.
The mystery ingredients that our bird-loving staff had to cook with were: gummy bears; chili powder; Cheetos; anchovies; and beets. They were given an hour to cook the salmon and create a culinary masterpiece. ABEF staff cooked a chili powder- and Cheeto-encrusted salmon filet, a side salad with shredded beets and a homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies, and a dessert of caramelized gummy bears over baked apples.
Although the American Bald Eagle Staff did not win the cooking competition, they had a great time working as a team, helping out a local community organization with their fundraising, and figuring out how to cook a meal that included both salmon and gummy bears!
When you become a member of the American Bald Eagle Foundation, you’re helping to fund educational programs such as our Youth Raptor Program, reduced price programs for low-income families or groups, as well as the resources we need to give our avian ambassadors the best possible care via husbandry, enrichment and training. Interested in joining?