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Golden Eagle’s Path Revealed

The Marquette University Golden Eagles have advanced to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. But another golden eagle is also making some news.  A rare golden eagle rehabilitated and released last year from the Tufts Wildlife Center spent the summer around the Quebec/Labrador border, then returned to the New York/Connecticut area where it was originally found, new data has revealed.

The eagle, found in Amenia, N.Y.  by snowmobilers in February 2011, had sustained multiple puncture wounds on its left leg, likely caused by an animal it was trying to capture. Also injured on its left foot, the bird was ultimately transferred to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic for treatment and released last March 25.

Prior to release, the golden eagle was outfitted with a GPS-GSM telemetry unit and a tracking band by Todd Katzner, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at West Virginia University, whose work focuses on tracking the migratory patterns of golden eagles, which, although not endangered, are rare in the eastern parts of North America.  In audio interviews, Katzner has shared his observations about his work and its implications. Interactive maps showing the surprising path taken by the eagle can also be found on this page.

Although golden eagles are a protected species in the United States, they are commonly found only in the western states, Alaska, and Canada. Sightings in New York and New England are exceedingly rare, and occur only during migrations. They are often 50 percent larger than bald eagles, with wingspans that surpass seven feet. In addition to revealing new information about the migratory patterns of the golden eagles, the data from Katzner’s research should prove invaluable in advising the billion-dollar wind power industry on where to build new plants that are eagle-friendly. This is important because although wind power is an important renewable energy resource, there has been concern about its impact on birds.

Photo Credit:Tony Hisgett

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