February 28, 2009

Scientists to trace golden eagle migration

Biologists in Wisconsin and Minnesota say they will fit several golden eagles with global positioning devices to trace their migration.

Unlike the bald eagle, golden eagles are not native to western Wisconsin and eastern Minnesota, but have been spotted in the hundreds in recent years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Saturday.

Golden eagles primarily are a western bird that occupy the Dakotas and northern Ontario west to the Pacific Ocean, said Scott Mehus, a spokesman for the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minn.

We assume these birds are probably coming from northern Ontario, and this (global positioning) device will tell us if that's true, said Mehus. Plus, we can learn more about where they're going while they're here and their daily territory.

Golden eagles look much like young bald eagles, whose heads are brown until they gain their white feathers at age 4 or 5.

In the past, when someone said they saw a golden eagle we wondered if it was an immature bald eagle, said Pat Manthey, a Wisconsin ecologist.