Golden find: Rare eagle tracked in Georgia
Devil’s Backbone Hunting Club members didn’t know their middle Georgia lease had golden eagles. But two days after putting out road-killed deer as bait in a project studying the continent’s largest raptors, one showed up on camera.
“Would you believe it?” writes club president Jodi Killen.
Few might have in a state where you can count the golden eagle sightings each year on one hand.
One of possibly as many as four golden eagles visiting the bait and blind site set up by the club was trapped and now wears a device that transmits the 5-year-old bird’s location, elevation and speed every 15 minutes (watch the release). Nongame Program Manager Jim Ozier has a second transmitter, also paid with a TERN grant, if another eagle is caught at the site near Sprewell Bluff Wildlife Management Area next winter. The area features a mix of rugged mountains and open woodlands, apparently prime habitat for golden eagles.
The Devil’s Backbone eagle is the first from Georgia tracked in an effort that has documented eastern North America’s golden eagles and their migration routes since 2006. The work has branched out from Pennsylvania into states as far south as Alabama, and into scores of camera “traps” that photograph golden eagle visits and, as of last year, tracked about 30 birds bearing phone-sized transmitters that link with the nearest cell tower.
Initially aimed at exploring threats that wind turbine sites pose to the birds, the project is providing details about golden eagles that migrate from Canada – including the revelation that not all follow Appalachian Mountain ridges. Some cut through the Midwest, according to project leader Dr. Tricia Miller of West Virginia University.
Ozier said findings “will help us figure out what habitats they’re using and what migratory paths.”
Eagle insights …
- “We tend to think of them as the ghosts of the eastern forests,” Tricia Miller said, referring to golden eagles’ preference in eastern North America for high-altitude forests. (See also “Golden eagle winters in northwest Georgia forests.”)
- While golden eagles are more common west of the Mississippi, they’re also found in Mexico, Asia, Europe and northern Africa.
- Blood samples from the eagle caught Feb. 15 at Devil’s Backbone revealed the lowest lead levels Miller has seen in a golden eagle. Raptors can be poisoned by eating carrion killed by lead shot.
- A fresh bait pile is key for attracting the eagles. The club picked up about 30 deer, networking with Klaus and local law enforcement, including Georgia State Patrol Post 34 in Manchester, to find new road kills.
- Before dawn Feb. 15, Killen was rushing to get to the club to meet the trappers. A police officer stopped him and asked why he was driving fast. Killen told him. The officer – who had heard about the project – replied, “Consider this a warning. Good luck catching ’em!”
Georgia’s Coast website welcomes any contribution of narrative non-fiction, journalism, essays, and submissions of fiction, photography, video and audio about coastal Georgia set in the past, present or future.
The only way we will accept submissions is electronically. Please use the contact us form to initiate the dialog for submissions and contributions. As it stands we can not offer any compensation and hope to be able to in the future.
You will, of course, be given credit where credit is due and even given keys to the website and free reign to publish as you see fit once we build a track record.
I ask that you please consider this and feel interested in the chance to be published here.
Owning a website and working a career sometimes makes it difficult to do both things. This website has never had employees. This website, since 2002 has been solely me.
I put it together slowly as time, family and job permitted. It never made money but seemed to serve people well enough. Accumulating useful information and posting it over the years and even being used as an educational guide and reference.
in 2013 that all changed. The site was hacked through some weakness I yet don’t understand. All of the sites content was lost as there were no file back-ups. A valuable lesson learned as I thought no one would care to hack my little regional website. I was entirely wrong and stunned and devastated. I was upset more for the client websites that were also associated with this site.
I restored the client websites and never got back to this site to rebuild it. Our family website was also destroyed, it will never be rebuilt because we now maintain contact via Facebook and other social media.
if this site is to be rebuilt (and it will be) it needs more than me doing it. This site needs you and your input. This website can be your chance to publish yourself and your views if they have to do with Coastal Georgia and adjacent communities.
I kindly request you send your stories, announcements, historical articles, humor or photography to us to post here. Some of you may be selected to become site administrators and be given the opportunity to post and edit directly on the website. Full credit will be given to any person or group whose information is used here. I will reserve the right of refusal but no reasonable, responsible content will be refused.
You may contact us through the contact form on this website
thanks for looking and considering submitting here. I would love for this site, this community to grow.
These photos by John Henderson. Thanks John!
If you have enjoyed the Georgia’s Coast website since 2002, THANK YOU.
Someone or some group gained access to this site and did not just toy with it but DESTROYED IT.
I apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you.
This site apparently was not backed-up by the host. So, there was no record of the content.
“I” will try and rebuild this site as it was and perhaps even better.
I am only one person and this may take a while.