Golden Eagles – Eastern North America

Background

We began studying the eastern North American population of golden eagles in 2005 to understand their ecology and movement behavior in relation to wind energy development in the Appalachian Mountains.

This project is a large collaborative project of the members of the Eastern Golden Eagle Working Group, of which Trish Miller is a founding member.

Research Methods
Telemetry

The study was initiated in Pennsylvania, where we trapped our first adult eagle on Bald Eagle ridge near State College in November 2005. We trapped and began tracking eagles with GPS satellite telemetry in November 2006. By 2008, we had begun tracking eagles GSM-GPS telemetry. Since 2006, we have telemetered 100 eagles in 12 Eastern states.

Specific Studies

Interactions with renewable energy

This study examined the intersection between migrating Golden Eagles and wind turbines in three regions of the Appalachian Mountains in Pennsylvania. During migration, Golden Eagles and other birds concentrate movements along the ridges of the region. These same ridges are where wind energy development occurs. To better understand the potential consequences to Golden Eagles from wind energy, we created maps showing where eagles were likely to fly at low altitudes during spring migration and where wind energy was likely to be developed. We then overlaid these maps to show where eagles may be most at risk from wind energy, where we considered risk to be both direct (i.e., risk of mortality or injury from collision) and indirect (e.g., risk of habitat loss, avoidance, etc. from habitat modification)

Migration

We studied migratory movements of Golden Eagles to better understand the influence of weather, topography, and experience on flight behavior. Understanding the mechanisms that influence behavior are important for conserving eagles in the face of wind energy and other obstructions to flight.

Habitat Use

  • Airspace
  • Roost-perch

Collaborators

Bob Sargent & Nathan Klaus, Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Chris Kelly & Joe Tomcho, North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission
Dave Brandes, Lafayette College
Dave Nelson, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science
Eric Soehren, Carrie Threadgill, Mercedes Bartkovich, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Jeff Cooper, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources
Jonathan Stober, Talladega National Forest
Kieran O’Malley, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Mike Lanzone, Cellular Tracking Technologies
Scott Somershoe & David Hanni, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Todd Katzner, United States Geological Survey
Tom Salo, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society

Supporters

Allegheny Plateau Audubon Society
B. Dale Miller & Family
Buchon Family
Devil’s Backbone Hunt Club, GA
Forbes, Tuscarora, & Elk State Forests, Pennsylvania
Marcia & Bruce Bonta & Family
Monongahela National Forest
Randy Flament & Family
Save Our Allegheny Ridges
Steve VanEerden & Tanya Meyer
Tom & Sally Dick
Tom & Janet Kuehl
Tussey Mountain Spring Hawkwatch
Virginia Society of Ornithology
Wendy & Ron Perrone, Three Rivers Avian Center
West Virginia State Parks