UCSC Review Winter 1998
Campus Update: Satellite tag monitors bald eagle's migration
Along the wild rivers of Alaska and British Columbia, immature bald eagles forage for dead salmon and learn to hunt for live ones in the late summer and fall. These eagles fly north on fast migrations from their birthplaces in California and elsewhere, stunning first journeys from the nest guided by thousands of years of instinct.
At least, that's what wildlife biologists have thought. Now, an information-age eagle has made that picture more believable.
Scientists from UCSC's Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group have tracked, for the first time, a juvenile bald eagle's remarkable coming-of-age quest for food and independence. The eagle wears a tiny backpack fitted with a lightweight satellite transmitter that beeps every 10 days. Signals from the satellite, sent via e-mail to SCPBRG researchers, show that the bird flew some 900 miles in August from its nest in northern California to central British Columbia. The journey took less than three weeks.
Two subsequent signals reveal that the bird is staying at the Dean River, apparently having found a rich source of food. Biologists think other young eagles venture even further north, into northern British Columbia and southeastern Alaska's spectacular fjords.