December 29, 2008 in City

Bird-watchers track famous eagle

Stephen Jr. named for satirist Colbert
Associated Press
 
Jason Decrow photo

Colbert
(Full-size photo)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Jack Noller isn’t the kind of guy who spends his days stalking celebrities.

But one sort of fell in his lap when he was photographing bald eagles at the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge the day before Christmas.

He spotted an eagle with a tag and radio and e-mailed his photos to Charlotte Anne Kisling, a well-known birder from Dorris, Ore.

She checked around and learned that A-46 is actually Stephen Jr., whom she calls the world’s most famous bald eagle.

“I’ve been waiting 2  1/2 years to see this eagle,” said Kisling, who finally did so on Christmas Day. “I just knew eventually it would show up here.”

Stephen Jr. is named after Stephen Colbert, of Comedy Central television’s “The Colbert Report.” And Colbert has been keeping track of the bird.

Stephen Jr. hatched April 17, 2006, from an egg found on Santa Cruz Island, one of Southern California’s Channel Islands, at the San Francisco Zoo as part of the its California Bald Eagle breeding program.

It was released on the island June 8, 2006, with a blue tag and GPS unit.

Since then, Colbert has regularly reported on Stephen Jr. during his mock newscasts.

“I watch the Stephen Colbert show regularly,” Kisling said.

The GPS unit tracked Stephen Jr. from California through Oregon and Washington to British Columbia and back south. Tracking data available on the Internet indicates that Stephen Jr. might have previously visited the Klamath Basin.

Noller has been contacted about using his photos at various Web sites. Kisling wonders if Colbert might do an update on his television show.

“I am sure that Stephen Sr. will be happy that his baby is back in California, but just barely. It was seen flying off with prey remains when I last saw it,” she said of seeing A-46 on Christmas Day.

“He is looking very good,” Dr. Peter Sharpe of the Institute for Wildlife Studies in Avalon, Calif., which has been tracking Junior’s movements, said in an e-mail to Kisling after seeing the photographs.

“It was my Christmas present to see it,” Kisling said. “Now that I know who it is, I’m excited.”

“The Colbert Report” is a Peabody and Emmy award winning satirical television program on Comedy Central.

On televised newscasts and on his Web site, Colbert said he has been disappointed by Stephen Jr.’s excursions to Canada. On a positive note, when Stephen Jr. first crossed into Canadian airspace in August 2006, Colbert noted Junior was feasting on fresh Canadian salmon, looking for Vietnam draft dodgers and stopping terrorist pigeons from crossing the border.

On his Web site, Colbert offers factoids about Stephen Jr., including, “He could take your arm off. Hates pelicans, just like his Dad.”

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