The northern hardwood forests of the Catskills contain a wide range of habitats that support many kinds of wildlife, including nesting bald eagles.
Previous studies have shown the Catskills to be a mercury 'hotspot.' Here, NYSDEC scientist Peter Nye climbs up to an eagle nest.
Once the eagles are gently brought to the ground, biologists prepare them for testing. Great care is taken not to overly-stress or disturb the delicate birds.
Scientists from BRI and NYSDEC take measurements from the eaglets to help track their health and development. The birds are also tagged so they can be monitored in the future.
The scientists take blood samples from the eagles, which they preserve and take back to the lab for testing. Many eagle chicks in the Catskill region had levels of mercury similar to those found in chicks sampled in other areas of North America with significant mercury problems.
After testing, the eaglets are returned, happy and healthy, to their nest. These eaglets have each been given a unique identification band that will help researchers track them into the future.
The testing does not harm the eagles, and once researchers leave the area, the birds resume normal activities.