Special Thanks to the Bald Eagle Biologist!
As the migration season draws to a close, we'd like to turn your attention behind the scenes. In addition to his busy job, over the past 4 months Peter Nye found extra time to share his research and knowledge with us all. Journey North would not be possible without the dedication of scientists like these who contribute their expertise voluntarily. Thank you, Peter!
Good-bye from Eagle Eye Nye
You're right, extremely busy here now, but it's the kind of busy I really don't mind. In fact, I look forward to it for most of the year. I am out banding with my long-time eagle field buddy, Steve Lawrence, pretty much full time each week now, and will be through June.
We are visiting about 50 nest sites here in New York State--climbing to the nests and examining the contents, inspecting the young, banding them, seeing what prey is in the various nests, seeing how well supported (or not) the nests are, and taking blood from some eaglets for contaminants analyses. To do this we get to hike, canoe, boat, bushwhack, camp out, and see some of the prettiest parts of New York. And, best of all, we get paid to do it!
Anyway, it's been a lot of fun communicating with all of you again this year, and as usual, all the folks connected with Journey North have done an outstanding job. I know a lot of what they produce, like those great maps, are very useful to me.
It looks like we know where most of the satellite-tracked birds are residing at this point. If time allows, I hope to check on a couple later this summer. If I do, be sure to check back in with JN next fall and see what I might have found !
I wish all of you a GREAT summer, and hope I can count on each of you to help us take care of our environment; it's the only one we'll ever have!
Endangered Species Unit
New York State Dept. Environmental Conservation
Another Raptor Expert's View of Eagle Migration
After watching two of Nye's eagles, K70 and K72, fly to the far, far west this spring, birding expert Laura Erikson shares these thoughts:
As someone who has watched eagles migrating along the shores of Lake Superior for twenty years, I find Peter Nye's data fascinating. But I'm not surprised to see the eagles moving so far west as well as north. Why? Because eagles don't cross the Great Lakes--they have to fly around them.
Here's why: Eagles get a free ride by flying on "thermals." Have you ever looked close up at a car on a hot, sunny day and seen the air wiggle? That heated air is rising, floating above the cooler air farther from the car, making the cooler air take its place, only to get heated by the car and rise. All this rising air is called a thermal, and though we can't really feel it, eagles with their enormous but feather-light wings and hollow bones can actually float on a thermal, making their migration very easy.
Fortunately, eagles don't need a hot car to find a thermal. Thermals form anywhere where the air in one spot is just a couple of degrees warmer than the air next to it. So there are thermals above highways, and next to rivers and lakes, where the ground is warmer than the water. But there are never thermals over a big lake, so eagles must travel along the shore.
Every fall here in Duluth, MN, we can count many hundreds of eagles (and many thousands of hawks) in a single day during the peak of migration! Because we're at the west end of the Great Lakes, Duluth is a great concentration point during fall migration--a place many eagles must fly past to get where they're going. Find Duluth, MN, on a map so you can picture why eagles fly by on their way south each fall.
Looking at a map of the entire Great Lakes region, and knowing that eagles don't like to fly over big areas of water, where do you think other Great Lakes concentration points might be? (Answer: Any place where the lakes get quite narrow, and especially at the little constrictions between the lakes.)
With this in mind, imagine the migration pathway K70 and K72 might take back to New York next fall. Follow the coastline they might travel, all the way back to the St. Lawrence River, so as not to cross over any large bodies of water.
But you can do more than imagine the trip! Peter Nye's satellite data will reveal their migration routes for the first time next fall. Come back and track their travels!
How Scientists Communicate Research Results
One of the most important steps in a scientist's work is sharing research results with other scientists. This is how the body of scientific knowledge is built--and how it constantly changes, as new research findings replace the old.
As a way to synthesize your learning this spring, write your own scientific paper based on the Bald Eagle research you have witnessed----just as our featured scientists are preparing to do!
This lessons guides you through the steps of writing a real scientific paper:
Copyright 2000 Journey North. All Rights Reserved. Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form