Bald Eagle #16-1474 has been flying very well in the A-1 flight pen during the past two weeks; the bird is able to maintain altitude, has strong stamina, and a general good quality of flight. Pre-release blood work was drawn on Thursday, August 11; results came back within normal limits. Dr. Dave also fitted the bird with a GPS transmitter, which will track the bird's movements post-release. The eagle was returned to the flight pen for additional time to fly while wearing the 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.
On Monday morning, Dr. Dave assessed the bird's flight again and declared the bird ready for release. The eagle will be released on Saturday, August 20 at 2:30 p.m. at Belle Isle State Park [1632 Belle Isle Rd., Lancaster, VA]. The release is open to the public; through the generosity of a Center supporter, there will be no park-admission fee for release attendees. When you arrive at the entrance to Belle Isle, please let park personnel know that you will be attending the release. If attending, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.