Bald Eagle #15-0642 was caught up and brought into the Center’s clinic today so that Dr. Dave could band the bird prior to release. Department of Game and Inland Fisheries eagle biologist Jeff Cooper also came today to fit the Bald Eagle with a GPS transmitter.
The eagle will be a part of an ongoing research study that will monitor eagle movements. This study looks at the data received from these tracked Bald Eagles to determine the range and behavior of Bald Eagles in Virginia’s coastal plain. Migratory behavior is studied as biologists are able to see how far Bald Eagles move in the winter season, and the data will play an important role in modeling how these birds use airspace. By looking at heights at which the eagles fly, average distances, and other specifics, biologists are able to relate this eagle behavior to real-life issues, such as airstrike data. During the past few years, VDGIF Biologist Jeff Cooper has fitted dozens of Bald Eagles with GPS transmitters.
For the Wildlife Center, this is a fantastic opportunity for additional post-release studies of our rehabilitated raptors. There have been very few studies done in this area. The Wildlife Center will be able to see and share GPS data; the bird will be added to the Eagle Tracking page on our website.
Because the bird is being released, and will no longer be a patient at the Wildlife Center’s hospital, the bird will be referred to in tracking updates as W20. “W” represents Widewater, where the bird was rescued and will be released. The numbers are the last two digits on the transmitter. Each transmitter has a five-digit number written on the side of it in permanent black marker so that the eagle can be identified at a distance.