Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

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Bald Eagle Migration Update: March 31, 2004

Today's Report Includes:

Eagles on the Map
This week’s map reveals a lot of clues about our eagles. After a flight of over 850 miles, it appears that A00 may have made it home for the summer season. Our new Bald eagle, V98 hasn’t moved much from his location in the Adirondacks. Is he planning to stay put, or will he continue north? No more transmissions from E50, but we did get 3 year’s worth of data from his small transmitter battery. Take some time to study this week’s map and data:
Field Notes from Peter Nye

Hello Eagle Watchers,
April is almost upon us as I write this, and it is a beautiful, sunny, 60 degrees here: if I were an eagle, I would definitely be thinking about being home and starting my breeding cycle!

A Closer Look at Golden Eagle A20:
News for this week is another mover: golden eagle A20 has started north, and now appears to be in northern NY just below the St. Lawrence River. Looks like this bird left around 23 March, almost exactly the same day as last year!

Will eagle A20 follow the same patterns he did last year? What do we know about A20 (hint: how old?)?

Spring 2002
Spring 2003

It will be interesting this year to see if A20’s pattern changes. Study the spring migration maps and consider these questions:

Challenge Question #18:
“Why didn't A20 "settle in" to a particular place? How would you describe Golden eagle #A20’s behavior? Do you think he will display the same behavior this summer?”

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

Eagleye Continues...

It appears that golden eagle A00 may be "home" now, in looking at the latest data. What do you think? Was this a quicker trip than last year?
Finally, our new bald eagle V98 remains in our Adirondacks. Now this has me wondering if she might be a breeder from up there and simply be "home?" It's still too early to tell - stay tuned!

Until next week, keep up that interest, preserve what's left of our open-spaces (and encourage your parents to also...), and do well in school! We need you to grow up and take charge and make sure we don't destroy our planet and all the wonderful living things in it!


Endangered Species Unit
Wildlife Diversity Group
Endangered Species Unit
Delmar, NY

New Light Shed on Transmitters

Other news: I now believe that the transmitter for our bald eagle E50 has died, as I am not receiving data any longer. This transmitter certainly did its job for us, lasting the expected 3-years; we originally captured this eagle on 7 March 2001. It would have been nice to get data on just one more spring movement; we were so close. Oh well.

Some interesting opportunities are ahead. We will be trying out some solar-powered satellite transmitters later this spring on some of our nestling eagles, and it is just possible, if there is adequate sun continuously recharging the batteries, that a unit could last for 5 years or more. This will be interesting to test. These units have small solar-cells right on top of the transmitter.

Challenge Question #19:
“What kinds of problems do you think we could encounter using these new solar-powered transmitters? List as many as you can think of.”

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

Migrating Eagle A00: discussion of CQ #16
"By what date had Eagle A00 arrived in her nesting region last year? How many days did her migration take?"
Luke wrote to share his calculations, “Eagle number A00 arrived in his nesting region by April 10, 2003. He left his winter home on March 17, 2003 so therefore it took him 24 days to make the trip.”

Since Eagleye Nye thinks that A00 may have arrived at her summer destination we can calculate how many days it took her this year. She headed out on around 3/5/04 and seems to be settled in on 3/24/04. How many days do you calculate this took? Did she migrate faster or slower this year?

More Eagle Investigations: Discussion of CQ #17
Last week we asked, “When did Golden eagle A20 take off in 2003? What is your prediction for this year? Will he leave about the same time?”

Now that A20 has taken off we know that this bird’s migration started right around March 24 this year. Thanks for your predictions!

Habitat Loss: The Newest Threat to Bald Eagles
Eagleye Nye has spent most of his adult life trying to save a once healthy population of bald eagles from extinction. In his work he has netted, tagged and cared for hundreds of eagles over the two decades he's been in charge of one of the most successful reintroduction programs in the country.

Thirty years ago eagles were on the edge of extinction caused by the pesticide DDT. Today's biggest threat to the Bald eagle is habitat destruction. According to Nye, each winter during the mid-winter aerial survey of New York more and more woodlands disappear. In a recent (winter 2004) New York Times interview about the New York eagle population, Eagleye Nye was quoted, "Their numbers are going through the roof," he said, "but the question now is whether, by 2050, the habitat they need is still going to be here to support them or will we keep whittling away at it so that the habitat disappears?"

What is being done? And, what can YOU do? Read on:

Try This! Habitat Conservation Observations in Your Neighborhood
Begin an experiment in your own backyard, neighborhood, park or schoolyard. Grab your notebook and a tape measure and head outside to look for nests. Squirrel nests may be the easiest to spot since their large, leafy nest bowl is so visible, but a good observer should be able to spot bird nests, too.

Once you have identified the location of a nest make some notes about the nesting sites. Consider some of the same questions the National Park Service is using to analyze Bald Eagle nesting sites:

  • What is the distance from the nests to the nearest house or road?
  • Do the birds or squirrels prefer a particular slope of the land?
  • What kind of tree do they choose?
  • What is the level of recreational use nearby?

Now read through your research findings. Can you make some generalizations about the nesting locations? Do certain types of animals nest in more remote areas? Are some nests found close to buildings or recreational areas? Using your research, can you find a way to teach others about the importance of protecting nesting habitat?

Chronic Wasting Disease and Eagles
Our Eagle Expert was asked last week whether we should be concerned about eagles preying on the carcasses of diseased animals and consequently becoming affected by the diseases. Of special concern was the possibility that eagles might contract Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from deer and elk populations. Fortunately experts today tell us there is no evidence that the prions (very tiny protein-like bodies) of CWD cause disease in eagles or other predators and scavengers.

Univ. of MN veterinary scientist Jan Shivers explains CWD graphically, "Prion proteins replicate themselves through a domino effect by touching another similar-acting normal protein in the animal's brain and changing its molecular configuration to abnormal. The reaction continues on and on... binding the proteins together like the zigzag pleats of an accordion, if you can picture that. The resulting reaction creates a nonfunctional space-occupying mass, like Alzheimer's plaques."

No Perfect Match-Up
She continues, "Fortunately for eagles, bird biochemistry is just enough UNLIKE mammals that many things do not correlate exactly. Meaning, they might have many similar DNA sequences of a protein, but not long enough of a string of 'like' amino acid sequences for the abnormal prion protein for matching up. So even if they ate abnormal brainstem tissue of an infected deer or elk, they probably would not come down with the disease, because it couldn't get a foothold on avian brain tissue."

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 #18 (or #19).
3. In the body of EACH message, answer ONE of the questions above.

The Next Bald Eagle Migration Update Will Be Posted on April 7, 2004.

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