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Monitoring Bald Eagles to Help Prevent Deaths from Collisions with Wind Turbines

Scientific team's eagle walking across ice toward deer bait before the monitoring device was attached. Photo credit: Teryl G. Grubb, U.S. Forest Service

Scientific team's eagle walking across ice toward deer bait before the monitoring device was attached. Photo credit: Kent Keller

Despite the many benefits which come from clean wind energy, one of the most majestic birds of prey, the eagle, is itself falling prey to the blades of wind-energy facilities. For reasons still not clear to scientists, eagles are vulnerable to collisions with wind turbines, and in some areas such collisions can be a major source of the bird’s mortality.

For this reason a research team led by of U.S. Forest Service scientist Teryl Grubb successfully captured and instrumented the first of six adult bald eagles with GPS devices during a recent winter trapping effort in Michigan.

One of the first to be outfitted with the non-encumbering lightweight device, which resembles a tiny bird backpack, was an adult female eagle. She was fitted with a solar powered transmitter that records GPS locations four times per hour, and downloads data daily to the nearest cell tower. The data will provide amazing precision in bald eagle behavior patterns and habitat use.

Although more is known about the golden eagle and wind turbine mortality, very little is known about the bald eagle’s interactions with wind farms. It is hoped by Grubb and other scientists that the knowledge gained from monitoring bald eagles can be used by the wind-energy industry to make informed decisions on effective ways to reduce eagle fatalities at their facilities.

5 Responses to “Monitoring Bald Eagles to Help Prevent Deaths from Collisions with Wind Turbines”

  1. Barb Walker says:

    I hope they will put satellite trackers on the eagles and ospreys in Monroe County, Florida just south of where the Sugarland Wind Project is proposed.

  2. Barb Walker says:

    Actually I hope they could fund addition satellite trackers for Swallow-tailed Kites and Snail Kites too.

  3. Tom Wasilewski says:

    At the Erie Shores Industrial Wind Turbine project located on the northshore of Lake Erieand west of Longpoint Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada at least one bald eagle was killed. The eagle happened to be found near the main highway and somewhat near one of the IWTs. The area around the IWTs is off limitsto the public and to any researchers-and the bird and bat kills are not being reported.

    I have been many times to the Everglades area industrial wind turbine project (called Sugarland by the wind developer) proposed for Palm Beach County. This is a significant bird flyway for migrating and wintering raptors (bald eagles), shorebirds, waterfowl, songbirds—and cranes, herons, storks etc. The area is home territory to nesting bald eagles as well as for some bald eagles migrating to the Everglades and to the Florida Keys. See Florida Keys Hawkwatch (Curry Hammock S.P.) at http://www.hawkcount.org

  4. Tom Wasilewski says:

    I have been many times to the Everglades area industrial wind turbine project (called Sugarland by the wind developer) proposed for Palm Beach County. This is a significant bird flyway for migrating and wintering raptors (bald eagles), shorebirds, waterfowl, songbirds—and cranes, herons, storks etc. The area is home territory to nesting bald eagles as well as for some bald eagles migrating to the Everglades and to the Florida Keys. See Florida Keys Hawkwatch (Curry Hammock S.P.) at http://www.hawkcount.org

  5. dorothy smalley says:

    I would like to know if there is anyway I can find out more information on a Eagle Nest tagging and testing done on Harsen Island MI. The babies have not been seen since this time and there are no feathers or sign of a struggle from a animal both babies and the parents are now gone and this is two weeks later. We have heard there was a strange red car there and do not know if there has been foul play here but we want to know. Any info or if someone would go check the nest and see would be greatly appreciated by all us Eagle Watchers!!!

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