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Bald eagle at Stony Creek park identified after 6 years of investigation

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Posted at 2:53 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 14:53:37-04

A bald eagle was first spotted in Stony Creek Metropark in the winter of 2011, and after a six-year investigation, volunteers have finally identified the eagle.

According to the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, volunteer photographer Joan Bonin was able to take a series of photographs of the eagle and identify the markings on its band as P-85.

After some research, Bonin found that the eagle was from Ohio, and almost didn't survive as an eaglet when her nest failed and fell from a tree. Staffers at the Ohio Bird Sanctuary quickly constructed a nesting platform for the eaglets, which helped P85 survive.

“After six years, Joan and others didn’t just identify P85, they learned about her entire life from Ohio to Michigan – starting with a near-death experience in her natal nest. That’s the power of volunteers and community, and we’re so thankful to have such a committed group around our parks and wildlife that extends beyond state lines,” said Huron-Clinton Metroparks Director Amy McMillan said in a release.

According to the group, Bonin took nearly 20,000 photos over six years and worked alongside partners, volunteers, photographers, researchers and the United States Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory to identify P85.

In 2014, one photo identified the first two numbers on the band, "P-8" and it would take five years for the final number to be seen.

According to the parks, P85 is still living inside Stony Creek Metropark alongside er mate, and the two are helping maintain Michigan's eagle population with 12 living offspring.