From March to May of 2015, Bernheim was thrilled to lead an Eastern Golden Eagle research project in collaboration with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Beckham Bird Club. For the first time in the state of Kentucky, Bernheim’s Natural Areas team, along with the Department of Fish & Wildlife and Beckham Bird Club, outfitted a Golden Eagle with a GPS satellite transmitter that allowed us to not only track its movements while it spent the winter in Kentucky, but also during its spring migratory return north to its breeding grounds in Canada. The transmitter lost power in May, 2015, indicating it had fallen off.
The eagle we outfitted was a male, believed to be at least 5 years old. He weighed 10.4 pounds with a hallux talon of 48.6 mm, both relatively large for a male. He was captured (and of course subsequently released safely once fitted with the device) after months of baiting and site prep.
The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) has been reported from Bernheim Forest region for at least 100 years. Though seldom seen, Bernheim has been monitoring the population for fifteen years. Since 2009, we have used motion detection wildlife cameras to photograph and estimate the populations of Golden Eagles, Bald Eagles, and other wildlife. Yearly counts have revealed as many as 6 individual Golden Eagles.
By studying the migration patterns of this eagle, we learned about their preferred habitats, in hopes of maintaining the ecosystem that allows them to maintain their place in the food chain as predators.
With the help of public voting, we named this eagle, Harper Bernheim. Our founder Isaac W. Bernheim made his fortune in the whisky business and I.W. Harper was the brand name of his bourbon. The legacy of Isaac W. Bernheim and our region’s bourbon heritage are intrinsically linked, so Harper seemed a very fitting name for this majestic bird.
Harper’s journey was chronicled on a blog that you can enjoy by clicking here.