Source: Kentucky Standard
Feburary 16, 2019
Clermont, KY – The votes are in and the public has spoken. Athena is the name of the female golden eagle that Bernheim is now tracking. Named for the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage and inspiration, the public chose the moniker for the majestic raptor over Goldie and Persephone after Bernheim opened the decision up to a vote.
Athena is the second golden eagle Bernheim is tracking and is thought to be the companion of Harper, her male counterpart Bernheim has been tracking since 2015. Named for the brand of bourbon Bernheim’s founder Isaac Wolfe Bernheim sold, the public also helped decide on Harper’s name previously.
Trail cameras and their GPS transmitter signals indicate the possible ‘lovebirds’ are spending time together, potentially making them the first pair of golden eagles tracked together in the eastern United States. Bernheim officials cited the large forest block habitat that Bernheim provides as critical to the preservation of this species.
In partnership with Cellular Tracking Technologies and Conservation Science Global, the Bernheim team captured Athena earlier this month and outfitted her with the GPS satellite transmitter.
“We know that Athena and Harper are companions who roost and fly together around Bernheim,” said Andrew Berry, Bernheim’s forest manager. “Now we are just waiting to see if they migrate together.”
If Athena and Harper end up being mates, Bernheim can learn how a pair of golden eagles interact during the winters at Bernheim Forest, through their migration in the spring and fall and on their summer breeding grounds in Canada.
Berry pointed to Bernheim’s size at 16,137 acres as the reason why Bernheim Forest is a winter destination for Athena, Harper and several other eastern golden eagles.
“Our research shows that eastern golden eagles need large forest blocks to survive the winter. Athena and Harper are staying within the 5,000 acres of protected interior forest here at Bernheim away from inhabited areas,” Berry said.
Berry expects the golden eagles to be at Bernheim through early March and then head north to their summer nesting grounds in Canada. The data Bernheim collects is being shared with others in the golden eagle research community, with the goal of expanding the understanding and protection of eastern golden eagles.
Bernheim’s Executive Director Mark Wourms said this research effort could have far-reaching benefits, and demonstrates Bernheim’s leadership in conservation.
“The capability that we now have to monitor these two rare eagles offers an unprecedented opportunity to gather information that could help protect this species in the future,” Wourms said. “Harper and Athena’s activities have already illustrated the importance of large forest blocks such as Bernheim, and other protected land where eagles can hunt, roost and breed to ensure their future existence as a species.”
Wourms thanked the Beckham Bird Club and private donors for funding this important research and continuing Isaac W. Bernheim’s legacy of conservation.
“This year, we are celebrating Bernheim’s 90th birthday, and the anniversary of Isaac W. Bernheim’s incredible gift — thousands of acres of protected land where people can connect with nature and wildlife can thrive,” Wourms said.