The Golden Eagle Research Project aims to better understand the biology and management needs of this population of golden eagles and works with landowners and the public to educate and encourage appropriate habitat conservation and restoration in the Mississippi River Valley. By releasing a golden eagle known to use this area as winter habitat with a satellite transmitter, researchers hope to learn more about the possible migration routes and breeding areas for this population of golden eagles. With these goals in mind, researchers plan to trap and release up to six golden eagles with radio tracking devices over the course of the project.
According to Scott Mehus of the National Eagle Center, volunteer observers recorded nearly 100 golden eagles in the coulees and bluffs in the Mississippi River valley in Minnesota, Wisconsin and northeast Iowa during the 2010 Wintering Golden Eagle Survey. “This wintering population”, says Mark Martell of Audubon Minnesota, “apparently does not mix with the much larger and better known population of wintering and breeding bald eagles found in the same area.” The breeding origin of these wintering golden eagles is unknown, and little is understood about their migration routes and habitat use during the winter.
The National Eagle Center and Audubon Minnesota released a golden eagle in March, 2009 with a satellite-linked radio tracking device. You can follow that bird, nicknamed ‘Whitey’, at Audubon Minnesota and find other information on this research project at the National Eagle Center’s website.
The Golden Eagle Research Project is under the partnership of the National Eagle Center and Audubon Minnesota, with support from Minnesota and Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, as well as United States Fish and Wildlife Service, Winona District, The Raptor Center, and the Schmidt Foundation.