In the spring of 2012, an adult bald eagle was found dead on a beach on Douglas Island near Juneau. Because the bird had a band on its leg, the people who found it called the US fish and Wildlife Service. Eagle biologist Steve Lewis picked up the bird and tracked down its story.
Lewis was unsure about the cause of death, but said some trauma on its head and beak suggested it wasn't old age. The bird was old, however, and a unique find in Southeast Alaska. The eagle was 30 years old, banded as a nestling in its nest on July ninth, 1982, near Point Couverden, about 15 miles west of where it was found on north Douglas.
Lewis said while that isn't the oldest bald eagle documented (the Bird Banding Laboratory has one from Maine that was 32 years old, and several captive bald eagles have lived to be about the same age) it is the oldest documented in Alaska. "My guess is that many adult eagles can get to be that age, or older, Lewis said. We just don't have a way to determine how old they are unless they are banded as nestlings and then the band is recovered." Banding marks a bird as a unique, identifiable individual, and that enables biologists to learn about its movements and migrations, reproductive behavior, and life history.