Where Will These Eagles Nest?
Eagle # K58: 46.80 N, -64.07 W
Why? Eagle # K58 left her wintering area fairly early, around 3 March. This usually tells me that a bird is not going too far north and is not too worried about finding open water, and hence food--fish! We've found that those that nest farther north and/or farther inland (where lakes stay frozen much longer into the spring), leave later in the winter season to head back to their nest sites. This makes sense if you think about it. They don't want to leave a good habitat where they can find food readily until they are pretty sure they will be able to find food (and open water) where they are going. Otherwise, they'd get stranded up there.
Occasionally it does happen that a bird will be heading back north, and may encounter some serious winter weather, which will "short-stop" them in a given place for a while under conditions improve. But, K58 obviously knows her stuff, and didn't take long at all to get back to her (what I suspect to be) nesting territory, arriving there only about a week later. The map location tells us she is on the coast (likely) of Prince Edward Island (PEI), which probably has open water all year long, and thus ample food. I'll have to check this out with the PEI biologists when I talk to them. From her early departure and quick trip, I would also guess she has an established territory up there and has bred there before. Again, I'll ask the local folks about this. As I mentioned earlier, this is our first tracked-eagle to go to PEI and I am excited about it! I am going to try to visit her nest site later this summer, if I can fit it in, along with maybe F43's. I do not know what PEI habitat is like, but I have heard it is beautiful and quiet! And, I saw the movie "Ann of Green Gables" which was filmed there, and it looks beautiful!
Eagle # F83: 56.58 N, -67.38 W
Why? This is one of last year's birds, but an interesting one. Recall that he left pretty late in the season, around mid- March, and went way the heck up in northern Quebec to nearly Ungava Bay ! This is the farthest north any of my eagles have ever been recorded, and is very near the tree line; a whopping 1189 miles NNE of his capture area! He also took his sweet time getting there, not getting to his northerly-most point until 10 May (just above 58 degrees latitude!). From then on, he wandered over a considerable distance (check out the Spring '99 archive map) during May, and finally "kind of" settling 100 miles south around 56.580N 67.385W. But, from his movement pattern, it was clear to me he was not mated and nesting. This year, what has he done? So far, he began his northward move about the same time, and also so far, doesn't seem to be in any hurry again, having "stalled" a couple weeks in Northern NY near Tupper Lake. What will he do? Only time will tell, but at this point my guess would be he is still not mated, but that he will go back up to the area I just referenced , 56.580N 67.385W, which is likely near where he was born, and he will be searching for a mate. Let's wish him luck!
Eagle # F81: 47.75 N, -68.84W
Why? This character has also had an interesting tour since his capture. By the end of February last year he had left the wintering area where we caught him, and moved up into New Hampshire for about a week, before dropping back down to his NY area again. This could have been because of very inclement weather as I spoke about earlier. Two weeks later he took off north again, going only about 40 miles straight north, then making a huge 2-day jump to the northeast, 365 miles to New Brunswick. Then just a few days later, he made his final little move (a correction?) 89 miles back to the northwest, just over the border to Quebec, where he stayed the rest of the summer. From the proximity of all his summer locations, I would guess this eagle was nesting in this area during 1999. F81 didn't start moving south again until early December, and then wandered extensively through New England before finally arriving back on it's NY capture/wintering area on Valentines Day :-) Why? Not sure, except he was likely hanging with other eagles in those other areas he was in, and was doing fine (food-wise) and thus was in no hurry to get back.
This spring, he has again departed Northeast toward his Quebec summer home, leaving New York on 13 March. So far, he is on the same heading, and I expect him to go right back to the same breeding area in Quebec, and I don't expect him to take too long doing it. I expect him to be back on his summer territory by the 28th of March. This is another summer site I would like to visit this year, and would be the first male-site I would visit. One of the purposes of these visits, is to obtain information on whether these birds are breeding successfully, and if our satellite radio-backpacks may be having any negative effects on these birds. This is very necessary follow-up research, as a kind of aside to our main purpose for placing radios on these eagles, to follow their movements. Information we gain like this, could well modify radio designs or suggest important "do's and don'ts" to future researchers.
Eagle # F43: 47.75 N, -68.84W
Why? We already have two years' worth of data for this eagle, and know where she has been nesting. A fellow eagle-researcher from New Brunswick, Rudy Stocek, keeps an eye on F43's nest as a regular part of his eagle monitoring. Unfortunately, Rudy has reported the last two years that F43 has not nested successfully; whether she tried and failed or didn't try at all (which I find unlikely), we aren't sure. I may also try to visit this nest this summer. She has been predictable in her patterns, leaving the NY wintering ground this year on 7 March, the same date as in 1998 (she left on 17 March in '99, still pretty close!). I fully expect she is headed to the exact same nest site in NB. And, I expect from her past behavior that she will return to the lower Hudson River wintering area between January 8th -20th, 2001.
Eagle # K70: 47.05 N, -76.63 W
Why? This is a really tough one, since I have no prior history on this bird and since she is still on the capture/wintering area at the time of writing! But anyway...I do have a bit of an edge on you kids (I think !), because I have a picture of this eagle and have seen her close-up and personal. I wrote down her age as "approximately 5 years", which means I thought she was a young adult from a bit of brown streaking she had in her bill and head and tail. This might lead me to believe she is not yet mated, which would fit with her movements so far. Although she was captured in Northern New York on the St. Lawrence River, she soon (two weeks later) flew further south to our primary (largest) wintering area in southeast NY, and spent almost a month there, before returning to the St. Lawrence where she is currently (as of 21 March). Of course, this tells me nothing of where she might go when she does decide to go. So, she is either unmated and in no hurry, or she is from the far north, as I explained earlier, and so is in no hurry. Simply based on movements from the St. Lawrence by some of our other eagles, I'm going to predict she goes up into La Verendrye Park in Quebec (up around 47.057N 76.635W), and I predict she will leave by 30 March. (Hey, nobody will really remind me of these guesses later on will they?) I expect that if she is not breeding as I've guessed, that we will see her displaying erratic, wide-ranging movements as we saw with F83 last year, rather than a tight cluster of locations all summer from one nesting area.
Eagle # K72: 49.02 N, -80.02 W
Another interesting eagle! (Aren't they all?). Interesting because this is only the second eagle we have followed that has gone to the Northwest into Ontario. The other, a famous adult male eagle named X11, was tracked the old-fashioned way in 1985, by a human being (in this case, my super-assistant Lois Goblet) literally chasing after and trying to keep up with a migrating eagle! This was obviously before satellite radios came along, and once we caught a bird we wanted to follow, beginning in early March we would keep 24-hour watch on the bird from a truck, listening to its radio "beep-beep-beep", waiting for the tone to fade away, telling us "it's flying" !! At which point we would start the truck and drive like crazy trying to keep up. And, once we lost the signal and couldn't keep up, we would try to get to an airport quickly, rent a plane, duct-tape our radio antenna to the wing, and go flying in hopes of picking up the signal. Exciting huh ? Stressful ! Anyway, Lois was the only one who ever successfully did this with a migrating NY eagle, X11, who went to Elgie Lake in Hornepayne, Ontario. This was also the first Canadian nest we visited and banded X11's young, who have never been seen in NY! Anyway, back to K72. She is moving on the heading 310 degrees northwest, which I think she will continue to follow. I believe she will go only a little farther, ending up around 49.02N 80.02W
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