FINAL Eagle Migration Update: May 26, 1997
Hello All ! Time flies doesn't it? We suddenly find ourselves in the thick of the eagle breeding season with lots of tree-climbing and banding to do. I began visiting nests here in New York last week; got to 5 nests with 7 young. In addition, we fostered 3 eaglets produced in captivity at the Salisbury Zoo in Maryland. Two of these went into a nest with a single eaglet and one into another single eaglet nest. We expect 30+ nests in New York this year with 40 or so eaglets. Here are latest data on both New York satellite-tracked eagles:
Of course I'm still monitoring our wintering friends; they are never far from my mind. Our adult N98 has clearly settled in at her summer home in LaVerendrye Provinvial Park in Quebec. We assume she is breeding there, but can't be sure unless we visit the location and find her using the conventional (non-satellite) radio transmitter we placed on one of her tail feathers at the time of capture. Using this radio we should be able to track her down from the ground - the satellite radio is unsuitable for this purpose. Ms. Blanche Town (the woman who captured this bird and monitored it along the St. Lawrence River this past winter) and I would very much like to travel up to Quebec around 10 July to locate N98. The unknown at this point is time to do this (depending upon when our own eagle-banding season ends up, and support/permission to go). We need some travel expense money and likely some to hire a float plane to fly us in. We also need to secure permission from Quebec officials for any work we might want to do.
The purpose of the trip is to determine if indeed this female is breeding, exactly where (important to compare actual location with our satellite data to see how accurate the fixes we are getting), and how many young she might have. We would also band and color tag any eaglets found in the nest, and radio tag them (if age allowed), to see if N98's young ever show up o the same wintering grounds. We have only done this once before (tracked a NY wintering bird to the nest and visited it).
It is all very exciting isn't it ? There seemed to be no end to the biological questions that pop into your mind as you work with these creatures. Each year I learn something new. For example, even though N98 was captured at our northern-most wintering grounds, she traveled the least distance north (only a couple hundred miles), compared to many others we've tracked from extreme southern New York, that went 900-1000 miles north up into Labrador.
The other interesting thing to me from this past winter, is our 3-year old N99's movements. This eagle has really covered some ground, from the Chesapeake Bay to Quebec. And, even though N99 was captured at our site in Sullivan County in southeastern NY, he eventually ended up (and is now) in the same general area of Quebec as N98, who was captured along the St. Lawrence. N99 is the first Sullivan County bird that has ever gone to that area - most others have headed to the north and east toward Labrador. As you'll see if you plot out N99's last data I'm posting, at one point he was very close to N98 in the Park!
Well students, I hope you've had as much fun and learned as much as I did this winter/spring. I am sure we'll be doing this again next year, in our continuing attempt to learn as much as we can about these magnificent birds; catch you next year !!
Peter E. Nye