Written By: Jim Wright for Duke Farms and Conserve Wildlife Foundation
Larissa Smith, biologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation, is in charge of several projects, from leading the effort to monitor dozens of Bald Eagle nests in New Jersey to running CWF’s citizen-science project to learn more about the Duke Farms eaglets’ diet.
This photo is of Larissa holding an eagle at a banding last week.
You can’t see her face, but as Larissa explains: “it’s an action shot. That’s what I look like in the field.”
Larissa adds: “The eagle is wearing a hood to help calm it down. The eagle booties are new this year. I made them out of my husband’s old Carharts. They keep the bird from hurting anyone or itself with the talons.”
We thought you’d like to know more about Larissa, her research and the current citizen-science project at Duke Farms.
When did you first get involved with Bald Eagles and Bald Eagle research?
I started working with the bald eagle project in 2000 when I joined CWF.
A large part of my job was to work with the Eagle Project volunteers who monitor the nests.
In 2000 there were 23 eagle nests in the state, so I knew each nest and volunteer personally. Now with close to 200 nesting sites being monitored and 70 volunteers, I haven’t been to all the northern nests.
I split the state with ENSP (Endangered and Nongame Species Program) biologist Robert Somes.
How did the idea for the Bald Eagle nest-monitoring project come about?
ENSP & CWF biologists work on many different species. So it was impossible for biologists to monitor each eagle nest as the population grew.
Eagle project volunteers report on important dates such and incubation, hatching and fledging. They are also the first ones to see any issues such as disturbance to the nest site.
Volunteers are also wonderful educators and our best outreach for eagles. They spend a lot of time at the nest sites and often get asked questions by neighbors and interested people. Continue reading