Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Eastern Bald Eagle Migration Update: February 24, 1999

Today's Update Includes:

Today's Satellite Data from EASTERN Eagles
Winter Range
as of 2/22/99

Five Eagles Now Flying Online in the East!

Peter Nye sends this exciting news from New York:

Hello Students,
Monday 15 February, Presidents Day. A holiday here (and elsewhere) so a good day to get out and go eagle trapping !! At 3 am it was about 10 degrees F, with crystal-clear skies when Steve Lawrence and I jumped in our truck, loaded with gear, and headed south to the Mongaup River Valley in Southeastern New York. By 6 am we had placed a fresh deer carcass on the edge of the ice of a frozen reservoir, and had a rocket net poised and ready 45 feet away. We then parked 1/4 mile away, poured some fresh coffee, and waited for dawn.

As the stars faded and the golden hue of dawn crept up over the far ridge, we already had crows and waterfowl flying up the river valley. By 7 am, our first eagle, an adult, soared in from the west and perched near our set. The day developed into a glorious, sun-filled, blue-sky day nearing 40 degrees, and by noon we had counted over 20 bald eagles. Several immature eagles and one adult fed on our bait for about an hour, but the eagle we wanted, an unbanded adult male, didn't come down to feed until 12:03 pm. By 12:15 pm the smoke had cleared, the stillness briefly shattered, and Eagle # F83 lay securely under our net.

At 1:15 pm, #F83 was winging his way freely down the river-valley once again, but now, sending out data for you to read and plot from his satellite radio transmitter. He now joins our other two eagles captured this year, all from distinctly different wintering ranges in New York. Although unbanded, we can still just assume that Eagle # F83 is a winter-visitor from Canada. Of course it's also possible he's a more local breeder who may not migrate this spring, a possibility with all our winter birds. Stay with us and our birds as we find out where they spend their summer!
Eagleye Nye

Peter E. Nye
New York State Dept. Environmental Conservation
Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources
Delmar, NY

Free as a Bird
Discussion of Challenge Question #1
Peter Nye's always curious to know where his eagles will go when released after capture. Last week we asked what #F81 and #F82 did once released. Way up north in Sterling, Alaska, 2nd & 3rd grade students at Sterling Elementary looked at the satellite data and figured: "These eagles didn't move very far away after they had been captured. We think that the eagles that have been released will go and find their territory so they will find other Eastern Bald Eagles to mate with, so that they can have babies. " (

It certainly is true that Eagles #F81 & #F82 moved very little after capture. And this is exactly what Nye learns by watching where they go. He learns where the winter "ranges" of these birds are. (However, these eagles will have to migrate to their NESTING territories up north before actually mating. In fact, mated pairs may not even spend the winter in the same area.)

Now Eagle #F83's travels after capture tell an interesting story! Look at today's data, and the Winter Range map above, to see what happened after #F83 was set free. Late Monday night Nye wrote: "Don't know what to tell you about #F83. He was around for about 1-2 days after capture before heading north. We've had some very mild weather here last couple weeks. This week it has been very cold again, down to single digits. It'll be interesting to see if he keeps going north, if he stops somewhere for a while-- or even heads back south a bit. We'll see!"

And only 1/2 hour later we did see, when the February 22 satellite reading arrived: "Eagle #F83 dropped back south to the Mongaup River Valley capture area! Interesting little excursions on these eagles' parts; short distances though, as the 'eagle' flies!"
Distance as the Crow Flies--and the Eagle?
Today's Winter Range Map shows exactly where Eagle # F83 has been traveling. The chart below shows the distance between each place where the satellite captured a reading:
Eagle #F83's Travels

Lat (N)

Long (W)



























Challenge Question # 6
"As the crow flies, what's the total distance between all the places where the satellite received readings from Eagle #F83? Explain why the EAGLE actually may have flown further. (Clue: Describe what happens between satellite readings.)"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Discussion of Weather Challenge for High-Flying Students
"What weather conditions might have warned our NY eagles to feed up on 1 February?" we asked last week.

"A storm and high wind speed might be the weather conditions that warned the eagles to stock up on food on Feb. 1, 1999," suggested Jay & Jason of Scott Young Public School in Omemee, Ontario.

Great suggestion! After years of capturing eagles, Peter Nye has a theory as to when & why they're likely to feed. Let's see what he has to say:

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Question

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 6
3. In the body of your message, answer the question above.

The Next Bald Eagle Migration Update Will be Posted on March 10, 1999.

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