Bernheim is pleased to announce that Athena the eastern golden eagle has checked in while migrating south after 2023 nesting season in Canada. Athena has been tracked since 2019 and continues to expand our understanding of eastern golden eagle behavior and migration. We expect her to continue migrating for the next few weeks, and will likely return for another winter in Bernheim Forest in the knobs of central Kentucky.
GPS tracking shows that Athena departed Wapusk National Park on October 19, heading south through Manitoba and into northern Ontario. By October 30, she was passing over Wabakimi Provencial Park and roosted on the shores of Havoc Lake just west of Lake Nipigon. She has now traveled over 700 miles, and on October 31, was just 50 miles north of Lake Superior. A recent cold blast has brought up to 3 inches of snow cover along her route around Lake Superior with around 1000 miles remaining of the fall migration.
The route she has chosen will pass over Duluth, Minnesota on the western tip of Lake Superior. This major flyway around the Great Lakes is used by many species of raptors and other migratory birds on their way south into the United States. We are not sure if she is traveling alone but we do know that she hatched a chick this past summer. If the chick has survived through the summer, it is also likely now traveling south on its first migration. Perhaps a stopover in the Wisconsin Driftless Area would be a great learning experience for a juvenile golden eagle.
In fall of 2019 and 2020, Athena migrated through Mackinaw Straits in northern Michigan on the eastern edge of Lake Superior. In previous 2021, 2022, and 2023 fall migrations she has used the western migratory route through Minnesota that has included a stopover in Wisconsin. The Driftless Area of Wisconsin and Minnesota have long been an important area for migrating birds to stop and rest before the long journey across the midwestern agricultural lands that include threats from poor habitat and expanding windfarms.
Stay tuned while we follow Athena on her journey south. We expect she will end her migration in the next few weeks. As she passes cellular towers during midafternoon Athena’s transmitter will upload data and provide key details about the migration. A special thanks to Beckham Bird Club, Cellular Tracking Technologies, Conservation Science Global Inc., Parks Canada, and all the supporters of Birds of Bernheim that make this incredible project possible. The support from Bernheim’s members, volunteers, staff, and donors are what allow us to protect golden eagles and steward their winter habitats.