Where Was He? 2022 Tracking Archives for MN72


 January 5: MN72 spent the holiday season in a familiar area this year, flying throughout Spotsylvania County, Virginia in a similar pattern compared to his previous updates. A closer look into the tracking data reveals that on New Year’s Eve at 11:08 p.m., MN72 was located in a heavily forested area about four miles west of the community of Chancellor. On January 4, he began flying north and reached his current location on the Potomac River by January 5 after covering approximately 40 miles.

 February 1: During the past few weeks, MN72 has been visiting areas farther south compared to what's been observed in the recent past. Starting near Indian Head, Maryland, he crossed the two-mile-wide Potomac River toward Woodbridge, Virginia. Moving back and forth across the river from state to state eight more times, following his ninth crossing he continued onward to the northwest. Leaving Woodbridge behind, he flew nearly 60 miles south until reaching his current location -- a small, forested cove along the shoreline of Lake Anna. MN72 has visited this lake before, most recently during December 2021. 

 February 21: Despite several significant windy and snowy weather events in Virginia during the month of February, MN72 doesn’t seem to have been discouraged from flying his regularly-seen circuit. From Lake Anna, Virginia, he traveled about 45 miles northeast until he reached Indian Head, Maryland. Several days later, he returned to the Lake Anna area after circumnavigating Woodbridge, Virginia to the west. Within a week, he had turned north once more and flew to his current location – Sweden Point, a small developed area on the Mattawoman Creek, Maryland.

 March 8: Similarly to his previous update, Bald Eagle MN72 can be seen moving in a somewhat predictable pattern during the past two weeks. From the Indian Head, Maryland area, he flew about 46 miles southwest toward Lake Anna, Virginia. After spending several days on the lake’s northern shoreline, he returned to Maryland by taking a less direct route around Woodbridge, Virginia.

 March 23: No surprises from MN72 during the past few weeks – departing from the Indian Head, Maryland area he flew about 40 miles southwest to the northern shoreline of Lake Anna, Virginia. A few days later, he returned to Indian Head by travelling a more westerly route.   

 May 31: MN72’s GPS tracking unit continues to check in periodically, showing that he’s been spending time near the Potomac River and following his usual movements. He regularly travels from Indian Head, Maryland to the Spotsylvania Courthouse area in Virginia, typically crossing the Potomac at the same 11-mile stretch of shoreline. During the past four years, he’s left the mid-Atlantic behind during the month of June and has flown to Quebec, Canada for the summer season. There’s no guarantee that he’ll make the same journey this year, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on MN72 during the coming weeks for signs that he’s moving northward!

 June 15: MN72 hasn’t made any major moves quite yet – instead, he’s spent the past few weeks in a smaller area compared to his previous update. A close look at the satellite imagery shows that he frequently moves up and down the Chicamuxen Creek area, but hasn’t flown more than two or three miles at a time. On this date in 2021, MN72 was on his way to Canada. Be sure to check on his Eagle Tracking page during the coming week for more updates!

 July 12: 2022 marks an interesting year for MN72’s tracking data – unlike 2018-2021, he has yet to disembark from the Indian Head, Maryland area toward Canada. It’s not known when or if he may make the journey this year, as not all eagles migrate annually. When food, water, and space is readily available, many Bald Eagles remain in the same area year-round. Bald Eagles are also known to claim and defend a territory after reaching sexual maturity. As of July 2022, MN72 is approximately five years in age, and is now considered to be fully mature. He may have paired with a mate and claimed a territory, or he may not have a resource-based need to migrate this year. Alternatively, he may just be waiting for the right time to move northward. Hopefully, upcoming tracking data will provide a more complete picture of this eagle’s status.

 July 19: MN72 is on the move! On July 12, he began flying northward. Within 24 hours, he had covered about 20 miles and stopped at what appears to be a landfill near a suburban area in Maryland. He continued moving north during the following days, crossing into Pennsylvania on July 18. Since his previous update, MN72 has flown about 90 miles. His most recent location is along the Susquehanna River near the community of Peach Bottom, PA.

 July 26: MN72 has continued to move northward during the past week. Leaving the Susquehanna River behind on July 20, he flew about 80 miles northeast and crossed into New Jersey on July 22. He continued east until reaching Round Valley Reservoir near Clinton Township, NJ, then made an abrupt turn north. One day and 50 miles later, he crossed into New York. His most recent location appears to be a few miles west of Washington Heights, a small community near the Wallkill River.

 August 5: Bald Eagle MN72’s journey north appears to have come to an end! During the past week and a half, he’s covered about 130 miles – after following the contours of Lake Champlain through New York and Vermont, he officially crossed the border into Canada on July 29. From that point, he flew 74 miles north toward a familiar location along the St. Lawrence River. For the fifth consecutive year, MN72 has settled into the same precise area – Pointe de lad Petite Commune, where the Yamaska and Saint- François Rivers meet in southern Quebec. In total, he’s flown more than 500 miles during the past four weeks! Historically, MN72 has remained at this location throughout the summer months before heading south in October.  

 August 18: As expected, MN72 looks to be settling in to his Canadian summering grounds. During the past few weeks, he can be seen flying above the Saint- François River within a relatively small area. One on occasion, he flew about two miles east along the shoreline, cutting north and doubling back after another mile and a half. This zoomed-in satellite imagery provides an excellent look at the topography of the area – a mixture of dense forests, tributaries, agricultural areas, and residential structures.

 August 30: Similarly to his previous update, Bald Eagle MN72 hasn't roamed too far during the past two weeks. He's remained in an area less than two miles in diameter, moving from shoreline to shoreline multiple times per day. 

September 22: It appears that MN72’s tracking unit may be experiencing some technical difficulties – the most-recent data point collected was uploaded on September 2. While it’s possible that he flew outside of the cellular range required for the tracking unit to communicate with the online servers, such a large gap in data suggests the unit may be malfunctioning. Most commonly, these GPS transmitters function normally during a time span of several months to several years; in rare cases – like Bald Eagle W20 – the unit may operate for up to five and a half years! As of September 2022, MN72’s unit has been online for five years and one month. We’ll be checking on MN72 during the coming weeks!

October 17: During the past 42 days, MN72's tracking unit has not uploaded any new information to the online server. While we can't be certain of the exact circumstances, several possibilities exist to explain this break in data. The tracking unit itself, most likely the solar-powered battery, could have reached the end of its lifespan -- as mentioned in MN72's previous updates, five years of continuous operation is much longer than is typically expected. Alternatively, MN72 could have moved outside of the cellular range that the unit relies on to communicate with the server, even considering his history of remaining in a small geographic range near the Saint- François River during the fall and winter seasons. We'll continue to check his tracking data during the coming weeks and months.

December 14: On December 5, Center staff reached out to a biologist with Conservation Science Global, Inc. [the organization that manages the Cellular Tracking devices on our tracked Bald Eagles] to discuss the lack of recent transmissions of Bald Eagle MN72. According to the biologist, the battery voltage and activity levels simultaneously dropped, and recorded temperatures were reduced to ambient levels in early September. After analyzing the data, the logical conclusion was that MN72 had either died sometime during September or dropped his tracking unit. The biologist noted that based on the location of the last transmission from his unit -- Pierreville, Quebec, Canada -- MN72's tracking unit is not recoverable. While we may never know exactly what happened to MN72 and the transmitter, the data that this eagle provided researchers with during the past five years has been extremely valuable.