Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle Migration Update: March 3, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

Slow Week
This week we flip to a new page on the calendar and we see that it's March. Lots can happen in March when the weather patterns and eagle hormones tell of spring in the air. In looking at this week's data, do you think our eagles are showing any signs of spring fever ?

Here's the Latest Data and Migration Map

Field Notes from Peter Nye
Peter Nye and Bald Eagle

Hello Students and Eagle Lovers!
I'm not sure where you are right now, but here in New York State over the past week we've had spring conditions with temperatures well into the 50's. This, of course, is designed to "fool us" into thinking spring is here...ha! Don't you believe it! We are sure to get back to some very cold temps and at least one more good snow fall during March here; we usually do.

In looking at this past week's data, do you think our eagles are showing any signs of spring fever? From what I can see of the data, they are all still sticking pretty close to their usual winter haunts. But, weather patterns and hormones are definitely changing this time of year, and it won't be long until we see some movements. Look back at last years data and see when these three eagles departed last year. It is always fun to see how close the departure dates are from one year to the next, and to hypothesize why changes/differences might occur.

Meanwhile, we are still attempting to capture a wintering eagle or two before the season comes to an end. As I explained in an initial message, one of our team, Scott VanArsdale, has been trying hard to capture the mate of golden eagle A00, whom he captured last year. I am trying to get a head start on a major study of bald eagles of our Delaware River we are launching next year, by trying to get a bird down there yet this winter. I will be in the field tomorrow with other team members Kathy Michell and Steve Lawrence giving it one more try. I hope I may have a good story for you next week! Until then, keep alert and keep studying!

Eagleye Nye
New York State Dept. Environmental Conservation
Delmar, NY

Try This! Do Eagles Migrate at the Same Time Each Year?
Take a look at migration records from past springs and predict when the eagles will take off this year. Peter Nye is doing the same thing right now!

Below are the dates when eagle E50 began migrating north (meaning the first jump north that occurred by this date) in spring 2002 and 2003.

  • E50 began migrating: March 30, 2002: April 13, 2003

These dates are spaced quite a bit apart. What do you suppose would have caused this bird to wait until mid-April in 2003? Peter Nye says that often birds who wait late into spring will migrate a great distance into the North. Do you think E50 was going to go far, far into the North country in 2003?

Now, what about eagles A00 and A20? Use the Journey North archives to find out when the 2 Golden eagles started their migrations.

Challenge Question #9:
"By what time had each of our Golden eagles, A00 and A20 begun to migrate north in 2002 and 2003? When do you predict each of them will migrate this year?"

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

Lead in Our Environment: Discussion of CQ #6
How does lead get into the bodies of wild animals and what can we do to help prevent lead-poisoning?
Once again your answers show you have done your homework!
  • "Eagles eat other animals that have lead shot in their bodies or fish that have eaten lead sinkers or lead jigs."
  • "This is a food chain phenomenon."
  • "Hunters with the years of using lead shot for waterfowl, the fishing industry with all the lead used as sinkers and heads on jigs, and industries that, over the years, may have dumped lead and other toxic elements into our water supplies."
  • "Solutions are underway. Lead shot has been banned for waterfowl. We just have to be sure hunters understand the importance of that ban and abide by it. The fishing industry seems to be recognizing the problem and some sporting goods stores have initiated a recall of lead weights as they are willing to replace them with new non-toxic materials. This may be only a beginning but at least we are moving in the right direction."

Find out more. Read how lead gets into animals, what happens to a bird with lead poisoning, how it is treated, and - most importantly - what we can do to help clean up our environment.

Teacher Tip: Reading and Writing Connection for Get the Lead Out
Reading Writing Selection
To become reflective readers and writers, students need extensive and intensive experience with engaging, high-interest selections. For this selection, try using a strategy for getting the most out of the facts.
Talons vs. Beaks: Discussion of CQ #7
Challenge Question #7 asked, "Can you think of some reasons why eagles always carry items in their talons rather than their beaks?"
Here are just a few of the reasons that students listed. Great scientific thinking!
  1. Center of gravity would be affected
  2. Eyesight would be blocked if carried in beak
  3. Prey could injure head area if still alive
  4. Talons are designed for holding and grabbing
  5. Two talons better than one beak
  6. Easier to see where they are going when grabbing with talons
  7. Might be hard to transfer prey from beak to talon for eating

Thanks to Park Rapids 5th Graders, Armenian Sister's Academy, Luke Amber, Iselin Middle Schoolers, and Ferrisburgh Central School!

Read on to hear what Journey North bird expert, Laura Erickson has to say about this.

Adaptation: Talons - Discussion CQ #8
Golden Eagle A20: What a set of talons!

What makes talons different from claws? Park Rapids, MN, 5th Graders used a Venn diagram to show the relationship between claws and talons. They told us, "Talons are a very special kind of claw, but claws are not a special type of talon. So, all talons are claws, but not all claws are talons." Other differences you wrote:

  • Talons are built for carrying or gripping things. Claws are used for climbing, hunting, and protection.
  • They are used to dig, scratch, kill and carry prey.
  • Talons' primary uses are grabbing food, wrapping around a limb for balance while sitting, and for protection- they could be used as a weapon, if needed.

Eagle talons are among the largest, strongest in the bird world. But their feet aren't quite as well designed for capturing fish as osprey feet are.
Read more about the osprey feet and how they are different from eagles:

Bald Eagle Adaptations: The Beak and Head
This spring we're looking closely at eagles, from head to toe. 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 for this week's adaptation?

The eagle's whole head is designed for its fishing and scavenging lifestyle. Take a close look at their head and decide why it has adapted uniquely for this powerful animal.

Challenge Question #10:
"What kinds of adaptations do you see that make an eagle's head right for this bird of prey?"

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

Ask the Bald Eagle Expert - Open Until March 5
Do you have a question you want to ask Peter Nye? Remember, the deadline is Noon Central (or 1 pm Eastern time) on March 5, 2004.

If you have trouble, please contact the Journey North office: our feedback form

Answers from the Bald Eagle Expert will be posted on March 19, 2004 via e-mail and on the Journey North Web site.

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 #9 (or #10).
3. In the body of EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Bald Eagle Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 10, 2004.

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