Recently we learned of a proposed wind project in Walton. This project would be built in an area we know to be a spring migration concentration area. We know the value of this particular spot for Golden and Bald Eagles because of our collaboration with Dr. Todd Katzner’s research group. In 2007, we raised enough money to purchase a solar powered transmitter for one of the 50 Golden Eagles they have tracked in the east. In 2009, using data from their telemetered birds to choose sites, we counted raptors just upstream from this wind project site. We recorded 100 migrating eagles in 9 days – 1/3 of them Golden Eagles. When we learned of the proposed wind project, Dr. Trish Miller – one of Dr. Katzner’s associates – created a map for us showing 40% of all tracked goldens in the east have used the area around the project site.
The reason the Walton project matters is because this species is especially vulnerable to wind turbines. At poorly sited projects, thousands of raptors have been killed, including hundreds of Golden Eagles in the western U.S. As many as 60,000 wind turbines will be required to reach national goals. Our organization supports wind as an alternative to fossil fuel use. However, raptors concentrate during migration. There are safe sites for wind development. We need to be certain that the sites that are chosen are safe for eagles and other large soaring raptors. The telemetry data from Dr. Katzner has proven to be of immense value for the eagles in our area and elsewhere. However, more needs to be learned about the habits of our small eastern population of Golden Eagles.
None of the 50 birds that have been tracked were captured in New York. Our camera trapping activities the past 4 winters have shown a larger than expected number of goldens are spending winters in Delaware and Otsego Counties. We are now looking to track some of these local winter residents. Most of the birds tracked to date winter in the central Appalachians. New York winter residents behave differently so more information is needed on their movements.
The new generation devices are solar powered and use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology to precisely determine the birds’ locations. The transmitters show how high and fast the birds are flying, along with direction. Data is collected every 15 minutes and transmitted through the cell phone network. This wealth of data allows study of how individuals use the landscape and habitats of our region. We plan to make data available to advanced biology students at regional colleges for research and analysis. Dr. Katzner’s group will include these birds in their development of migration models and other studies. This technology is ideally suited to our goals but it is expensive. To justify bringing Dr. Katzner’s staff to New York, we need to raise more than $10,000. We expect some grant funding but will still need to provide matching funds.
We are lucky to live in an area where we can watch these beautiful and iconic birds. If you are on our mailing list, you will receive a mailing in October asking for your help with this project. When you receive our message we hope you will give generously. This work has already proven its worth in our area. If you are not on our mailing list, you can still support this work by sending a donation to DOAS – Golden Eagle Research, PO Box 544, Oneonta, NY 13820 or via PayPal at the link to the right.
To see new maps generated by data from telemetered eagles, visit Dr. Katzner’s web site.
For additional maps specific to the Walton Area Project, See also: https://doas.us/walton-wind-project-raises-eagle-concerns-data-needed/