November 4, 2018
Harper successfully completed his 1500 mile migration on Saturday, November 3, 2018. With spectacular accuracy he navigated across Fort Knox and flew directly to his preferred range in the Wilson Valley of Bernheim. It was amazing to watch his tracks move directly to his favorite locations from last winter in Bernheim.
As he flew towards Bernheim he made a final ascent reaching heights over 1000 feet, then descended at speeds up to 35 miles per hour directly into the Wilson Valley. He then flew back and forth over Harts Run and the Wilson Valley, at times as low as 20 feet above the ground surface. His movements back and forth across his winter range seemed to suggest that he was surveying the old favorite locations, much as we saw him do when he arrived on his summer range. Last spring he arrived near Churchill and immediately began visiting his preferred spots, including his nest site and favorite hunting locations.
The complete fall migration took just 19 days, beginning on October 16 and ending on November 3, 2018. We saw him use a similar route to his previous migrations, traveling an average of nearly 80 miles per day. Bernheim is elated to finally have the complete spring and fall migrations mapped, and begin to understand the complexities of a golden eagles flight patterns and stopovers.
It really says something that Harper would travel 1500 miles to the wilderness of northern Manitoba, spend the summer nesting, and then fly back to Kentucky in the fall and land directly in Bernheim Forest. This project has highlighted the importance of large protected areas of habitat for this apex predator, both on his summer and winter range. This is just one example of animals that migrate between Bernheim and far off locations, with others including monarchs, bats, raptors, and migratory songbirds. Stay tuned as we continue to interpret and decipher the life of a golden eagle on his winter range in Bernheim.
November 3, 2018
Harper continues to move south towards Louisville and Bernheim Forest. He has rapidly moved over Illinois and Indiana, crossing the Hoosier National Forest without stopping except for night roosting. On November 1, he roosted near Bloomfield, Indiana on a forested hillside. The next day he stayed in that location until past noon, then began traveling southeast and headed directly over Crane Naval Base, a location he used for spring migration in 2015. His last location on November 2 was 7 miles north of Paoli, Indiana.
He is moving quickly at this point, and with favorable weather on Saturday will likely make steady progress towards Louisville. He was just 50 miles from the Ohio River and Louisville. It is likely that by afternoon on November 3 he will be able to see the Bernheim knobs on the horizon. This is the first year we have been able to track his fall migration and many questions remain to his final approach. We will have updates as he gets closer, and then a detailed analysis of his final fall migration route and flight patterns next week. Thanks for your interest in Harper and hope you are as excited as we are at Bernheim to have him back for the winter.
October 31, 2018
Harper the golden eagle continues to head south towards his winter range at Bernheim. His travels have taken him to the southwest of Chicago on a route very similar to his previous migrations. We continue to see spectacular flight patterns with speed topping out at 62 miles per hour and height above the earth at over 3000 foot. This is migration route is very familiar to Harper, and for the remainder of his journey he should be within cellular transmission range allowing for daily updates. Questions still remain such as whether he travels alone, with a mate, or even possibly with mate and their offspring from this past summer’s breeding season in Canada. We are also interested in whether he will come directly to Bernheim when he finally enters Kentucky. Stay tuned as we continue to monitor his migration.
October 26, 2018
After 184 days in the wilderness of the Hudson Bay lowlands in Canada, the golden eagle known as Harper has begun his journey back to Bernheim Forest. The fall migration started on October 16th, traveling south across Manitoba and crossing into the United States on October 23 headed directly for the western tip of Lake Superior at Duluth, MN. This route has been followed for each spring and fall migration tracked so far.
During his summer months in northern Manitoba, we saw Harper use a small cluster of lakes totaling about 60 square miles of home range. The data shows that he is using the same cluster of lakes as in 2015. This is an example of the strong site fidelity for nesting, meaning Harper and his golden eagle mate likely use this site yearly because of an abundance of food and the existence of a favorable nesting location.
We expect Harper will continue his travels south towards Bernheim and arrive sometime in early November. Stay tuned as we continue updates on his movements and activities while on the winter range in Bernheim.
To learn more about Harper click here.