Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle Migration Update: February 18, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

This Week's Map and Data

Hi Kids,
Here's the latest migration map and data from the eagles!

Link to Latest Data:

Compare what you remember from last week's map. What's happening?

Eagles Holding Steady on Winter Range
During the winter months, before migration begins, Peter Nye looks closely at the eagles' behavior. His goal is to identify critical night-roosting, daytime feeding and daytime perch areas. Such habitats are of vital importance to the New York wintering eagle population.
Look closely at the eagle location data

How hard is this to do? What generalizations can be made? Divide your class into 3 groups so each group can chose their own eagle. Use the data we've provided so far and make a "winter range map" for your eagle. (Or make copies of our map to analyze.) Your job is to define each bald eagle's home range or "winter range." (See definitions below.) Try to write the best verbal description you can.

Challenge Question #4:
"Based on one month's data, which eagle seems to have the smallest home range? What body of water do you think the eagle is using?"

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

Writer in the Field: Winter Notebook
Visit an eagle hotspot in Minnesota
When we get hungry for a snack we head for the kitchen to look in the cupboard or frige. Or when things are looking bare we jump into our car and drive to the grocery store. Now think about wild animals. For them getting a steady food supply isn't so easy. Especially in the winter months when their bodies need lots of food to keep them warm and functioning.

This week come along on a winter fieldtrip to a Bald eagle hotspot in Minnesota. Put on your hats and mittens - grab your binoculars- and come to a special place where the fishing is good.

Teacher Tip: Reading Writing ConnectionReading Writing Selection
Before reading Winter Notebook, try integrating this content-rich story into your reading and writing curriculum.

Winter Counts, or Why Count Eagles in Winter?
Year after year New York State participates in the national midwinter bald eagle survey. Over a period of a couple of weeks in January an eagle-spotting team goes out on land and in the air to count eagles. These surveys are important because they help us manage eagle habitat and understand the relationships between habitat development and eagle populations.

Peter Nye says New York's eagle counts are always sure to be the highest in January.

Challenge Question #5:
"Why do you think more bald eagles are found in New York during the winter months than at any other time of the year?"

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

Lots of Crows Lure in Eagles: Discussion of Challenge Question #2
Kathy and Pete like to entertain crows for breakfast at the trap site. We asked you to think about this and see if you could answer CQ #2, "Why do you think it is a good sign for lots of crows to arrive early at their bait?"

Well, it comes down to comfort and security! Because the goal for baiting the eagles is to get them comfortable with coming to the bait, crows can play an important role.
"The crows, being noisy, will attract other birds, including bald eagles to the carcass."

Students from Chelsea, VT, Iselin, NJ and Armenian Sisters' Academy, in Lexington, MA took the challenge and we found out that you understand this relationship.

Kathy Michell adds this,

"Crows are less wary than eagles, so they come to our bait quickly. One crow attracts the next, and soon the activity level is high. Not only does the noise of crow activity attract eagles into our bait, it also tends to make them more relaxed and less sensitive to outside disturbances (such as us)."

Why Use Fresh Greenery? Discussion to Challenge Question #3
Challenge Question #3 asked an interesting question, and one that we can only really speculate on: "Why might eagles put greenery into their nests?"

Your answers show that you are definitely starting to think like scientists.

"Eagles might put greenery in their nests to camouflage the nests. We also think that the eagles put greens in their nests to make them more comfortable. The snow in the nest would be damp when the eagle was on the nest. The greens would help absorb the moisture from the snow and ice. If it turned to ice, it would be hard and slippery. The greens would make the nest softer and drier. The greens would help them keep warm." Thanks for this thoughtful answer from Ferrisburgh, VT 3rd graders, Andrew, Jack, Mary, Jennifer, Kris, Charles and Ashley.

You submitted lots of great ideas: greens might attract a mate to a nest, soften the nest for the eggs, attract insects that would make an easy meal for a nestling, or simply to make the nest clean, fresh and comfortable. Thanks also to home-schoolers in Chelsea, VT, 7th Graders at Armenian Sisters' Academy, Lexington, MA, and students from Iselin Middle School in NJ.

P. S.: Scientists add a couple more interesting thoughts: greens may actually serve as an insect repellent or show a clear signal to other eagles that this nest is well-tended so they better keep away.

What's in a Name: Classroom Monikers for Migrating Eagles
Use capture stories and maps for clues to name the eagles
Scientists that track migrating animals usually assign them numbers instead of names. They do this for a reason. Can you think why?

Do you find it kind of cumbersome to use numbers instead of names? Why not make your own personal classroom names for this year's satellite-tracked eagles? Their names should reflect important attributes surrounding each bird. Research and gather information about each bird. Put all the clues together and try:

Bald Eagle Adaptations: From Head to Toe
An ornithologist seeing an eagle for the first time could instantly guess that this bird is a predator, it probably catches fish by plucking them from the water with its feet, it flies long distances without a lot of flapping, nests in trees, and mates for life. How? Fascinating secrets are revealed when we study how an organism's body--and its behavior--are adapted to its environment.

An "adaptation" is a physical or behavioral feature that evolved in response to an organism's environment, due to pressures for survival. How a species looks (its anatomy), as well as how it behaves (how it moves, obtains food, reproduces, responds to danger, etc.) are all based in the species' evolutionary history.

This spring we'll look closely at eagles, from head to toe...

Head and Beak




Feet and Legs


Each week, we'll pose a Challenge Question related to the next week's featured adaptation. Remember: There's always a WHY behind WHAT you see. So whenever you see an unusual behavior or body part, ask yourself WHY...Are you ready?

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

IMPORTANT: Answer only ONE question in each e-mail message.

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #2 (or #3).
3. In the body of EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Bald Eagle Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 25, 2004.

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