Researchers Track Golden Eagle’s Path

05/16/11 6:34AM Nancy Cohen
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Photo by Nancy Eve Cohen
Veterinarian Emily Christiansen of the Tufts Wildlife Clinic holds a Golden eagle that she treated at the clinic.
(Host) Scientists released a Golden eagle in Connecticut about a month ago outfitted with a GPS tracking device.

Researchers say by following the journey of birds like this they can make predictions about where to build wind turbines that are not on migration routes.

As part of a collaboration with Northeast public radio stations WNPR's Nancy Cohen reports on the eagle's path since it left the state.

(Cohen) Back in February a farmer in Amenia, New York was snowmobiling when he came across an injured bird with big wings and a sprinkling of golden feathers on the back of its neck.

This Golden eagle was taken to the Tufts University Wildlife Clinic where it was treated and at the end of March released on a ridge top in Goshen, Connecticut.

Conservation Biologist Todd Katzner from West Virginia University says at first the bird went right back to New York where it was originally found.

(Katzner) "And then did a bit of a loop through western Massachusetts and northwestern Connecticut, ended up coming right back to that part of New York again and then began its migration north."

(Cohen) By April 10 the bird crossed the border into Canada, just west of Montreal and then continued into northern Quebec.

It's outfitted with a device that sends G.P.S. data points that describe the birds exact location.

Katzner says by following this bird and about 30 others he has observed patterns that predict how birds travel in relation to potential wind turbines sites.

(Katzner) "When they're flying over ridgelines they seem to be lower, potentially more at risk, from turbines. When they're flying over flat areas, in the open, they tend to be a lot higher."

(Cohen) Katzner says when its very windy Golden eagles tend to fly at lower altitudes. He says this data can help wind developers reduce the risks to these birds and possibly other species.

For VPR News, I'm Nancy Cohen.

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