Monday, January 21, 2013

Golden Eagle Survey

Golden Eagle Habitat in Western Wisconsin
 This weekend I participated in the 9th Annual Golden Eagle Survey through the National Eagle Center.Each January, for the past nine years, volunteers have braved the cold to go out and count golden eagles in south eastern Minnesota, south western Wisconsin, and northern Iowa. This was my fifth year on the survey and I was joined by my crew mates from The Raptor Center Jim, who was also on the survey with me last year, and Less. We had the same route in south western Wisconsin as we did last year. This route has numerous territories in it and this year we surpassed last years numbers by 1 by spotting 6 eagles.
Golden Eagle in Flight
For many years spotting a golden eagle in this area was a rare occurrence. It was well known that 100 to 200 golden eagles were typically counted migrating over Hawk Ridge each year but most people believed that they migrated out of the area. Perhaps out east to Pennsylvania where a group of golden eagles was known to winter. Then Scott, the Education Director at the National Eagle Center began to spot them in the hilly areas just outside of the Mississippi River Valley. After a few years he organized the first survey. Since then the survey has grown. Last year there was over 154 volunteers and we spotted 130 golden eagles. They have also had the opportunity to put radio trackers on several eagles so that we can learn more about these eagles. One of the big questions is where do they nest, since they do not breed here in Minnesota. Preliminary info suggests that they either breed around the Arctic Circle north of Churchill, Canada or out east in Quebec, Canada. However we need a lot more info before we can hope to understand these majestic eagles and I am continuing to do my part by participating in the annual survey.


carol l mckenna said...

Wonderful to hear the golden eagle is more in abundance and what a wonderful experience you must have had ~
Excellent photography and great post ~

(A Creative Harbor) ^_^ on Blogger

Fun60 said...

How fortunate you are to be able to spot a golden eagle. It is wonderful to know that their numbers are on the increase. We do have small numbers of them breeding in Scotland but the location of their nests is kept as secret as possible for fear of the eggs or eaglets being stolen.

troutbirder said...

Six! Wow. Amazing that som many prefer Wisconsin.... Just kidding.:)