On March 18 we tagged and released our third Golden Eagle of the season. This was an aggressive 3 year old male bird which was named Greg by one of the supporters of the project. At 10 pounds it was average weight for a golden but large for a male. I had the pleasure of sharing the trapping blind in New Lisbon with NYSDEC eagle expert Scott Van Ardsdale when the bird was captured. I had a moment of panic when I was watching the bird through binoculars. The bird put its head down to feed. Peripherally, I saw Scott hit the contact button on the remote controller. Nothing happened! Scott too had been watching the bird closely and had just missed the button. The next time the bird put its head down, pop went the launcher and Greg was caught.
Greg is the first Golden Eagle captured in Otsego County. Being an immature bird, he may remain in our area well into April before moving north.
Jean, the large adult caught in Andes, was out of cell range for an extended time. Since the transmitters only connect to the cell network at a specific time each day, we were wondering if she migrated without checking in. It is possible she could have been in a cell dead zone at connection time each day. However, on March 17 she moved further north into Delaware County where there is cell service. She had not migrated as of March 19.
Maxine’s unit has not connected in a while. The lack of reliable cell service in the wild parts of our area complicate locating the birds. It is these wild areas that are most likely to harbor Golden Eagles. Maxine’s last location was between Hancock and Roscoe. We expect to provide more information on her soon.
We had hoped to catch 4 eagles this winter. Considering the extreme wariness of these birds, some hardware problems and the severe winter weather, the season was a great success. We will use the remaining transmitter next winter. Experts who have trapped Golden Eagles in the east and west tell us that eastern birds are much more wary and difficult to catch. Our experience seems to support that view.
Being present when Scott trapped Greg was a thrill I will never forget. After releasing the bird, Scott was left blooded and smiling. He too should find him hard to forget.