Migration Update: April 22, 2009
Welcome to the 2009 Journey North Bald Eagle Study!

An eagle feather: illegal to own, but fascinating to look at >>
Maps and Data

The bald eagles seem to have one thing in mind; their nesting grounds. U25 continues to amaze with her straight, no-fooling around approach to migration. It is interesting to compare her with U21, the other bird still migrating. We will look more closely at U21's map in this week's handout.

Eagle U25 appears to be following the same path she took in spring 2007 and 2008. Like U21, she flew about 750 miles between March 28 and April 15.

Which eagle will be next to arrive at their 2009 nesting site? Make a prediction and then return next week for an update.

  • All Eagles: Map
  • All Eagles: Data
  • Map Questions >>

Questions about this week's map >>
Observation: Eagle Nesting Behavior

Here's an interesting question that missed the deadline for Ask the Expert:

"I have observed the same pair of nesting eagles for the past 3 years. This year the pair has a 3rd mature eagle that sits on the same branch with the parent who is not in the nest. I thought they protected their area from other eagles. Is this unusual? Or, have I just never seen it before?"

What do YOU think is going on here? Why would a mature eagle be hanging out at an active nest site? We put the question to Peter Nye. Here is Pete's response:

"That's not a good thing! By maturity, such birds are a threat to both any young in the nest, and perhaps to one of the breeding adults. Perhaps the bird is looking to take over their territory. Usually the resident adults are protective and drive off such eagles, but some don't do much for some reason, and end up losing."

A typical family: Adult + 2 fledgling eagles
Credit: Ray Foster

A typical family: Hanging out
Credit: Ray Foster
Explore: Focus on Feathers
Slide show >>

When you see a bird and notice they have a missing feather or two, what is happening? Does this mean the bird is sick? Or, has been damaged? Read this week's slideshow, look closely at feathers, and learn about something called "molting."

  • Focus on Feathers >>
Focus: Norfolk Eagle Nest

The Norfolk Botanic Garden eaglets are well, and growing! They are scheduled to be banded on Wednesday, April 22. At this time the biologists will weigh and measure the eaglets, take a small blood sample, and a single feather to collect a genetic sample.


Norfolk Botanic Garden Eaglecam >>

Banding allows scientists to collect information about wild birds. Each band carries a code number that is reported to the Bird Banding Laboratory at the United States Geologic Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. A bald eagle leg band is made of metal and will last throughout the bird’s lifetime.

Nestcams continue to teach us more about eagle nesting behavior. Tune in often:

  • Norfolk Botanic Garden Eaglecam >>
  • Sutton Center Bald Eagle Nest >>
Links: This Week's Eagle Resources
  • Active NestCams:
    • Cornell Lab of Ornithology >>
    • Sutton County >>
    • WVEC Norfolk Botanical Garden >>
  • Explore: A Closer Look at Maps >>
  • Eagle Glossary Words: eaglet, banding, genetic sampling >>
  • Lessons, Activities, and Resources >>
  • Journey North for Kids: Eagles >>
Journal cover
Eagle Journal >>
More Eagle Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Bald Eagle Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 29, 2009.