Bartlesville Researchers Track Bald Eagles

Tuesday, December 21st 2010, 9:42 pm
By: News On 6

Rick Wells, News On 6

BARTESVILLE, Oklahoma -- Where do Bald Eagles go when they leave the nest? How far do they fly? And where do they hang out on those stop-overs?

Up to now there has been no reliable way to know for sure. But now, researchers in Oklahoma have been tracking a pair of young eagles since June, using satellite and GPS technology.

Bensar is a Bald Eagle hatched and raised at the Sutton Avian Research Center in Bartlesville. Had he been one of the 275 eagles the center has hatched and released into the wild, where would he have gone. The folks here decided to find out.

With the help of some funding from Nature Works, researchers attached transmitters to a pair of eagles hatched near Sand Springs and watched.

"For the first month or so they stayed pretty close to the nest," said Alan Jenkins, Sutton Avian Researcher.

Alan Jenkins, Dan Reinking, and center Executive Director Dr. Steve Sherrod are sharing a bit of what they are learning from this new way of tracking eagles.

One thing they've found is that these young eagles use the sandbars in the river as fishing perches, like the ones in the Arkansas River near Sand Springs. Young birds are perfecting their hunting skills close to home.

"it's the kind of information you could only get by watching the eagle 24 hours a day," said Dan Reinking.

Now they can follow them from the office over a long period. The transmitters have solar batteries and should last three years.

"It's a period of the birds life that has been largely neglected, because there hasn't been a way to gather that kind of data," said Steve Sherrod.

And to their surprise these two young eagles have ventured far from home, one near Houston and the other around College Station Texas.

You can track the eagles too. Using the Sutton Center website Eagle Tracker you can find the eagles' current location and trace their travel history.