Athena is Heading North from Bernheim on Spring Migration

By Andrew Berry

Athena’s migration between March 4 and March 14, 2023

Bernheim is happy to announce that the golden eagle Athena has begun her spring migration and is headed north towards her summer nesting territory in Wapusk National Park. Athena is following her usual route through Michigan and will be traveling 1,700 miles north to nest on Canadian lakes that provide an abundant food source her and her offspring. It’s a special time of the year with many other species including migratory birds, bats, and monarchs now traveling north with warmer weather’s arrival.

Athena got an early start this year, departing Bernheim on March 4, 2023, the day after we experienced hurricane-force winds that caused so much damage to the region’s forests. While leaving, she followed a different path than we had seen before, with her taking a southeast route initially that took her south of Elizabethtown and through Glendale. We were thrilled to learn she flew directly over Stephensburg Lake, a place very important to my families’ roots, and then proceed north towards the Ohio River and cross just west of Brandenburg.

From there, she continued north through Indiana and traveled directly over Brown County State Park,  an area that is very familiar to her migrations. After passing Indianapolis she veered east towards Michigan and continued towards the crossing of the Great Lakes at the Straits of Mackinaw on March 12, 2023. This location is a major crossing not just for golden eagles, but many raptors and waterfowl that nest in Canada during summer months. As of March 14, 2023 she was in Sault St. Marie in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan just getting ready to cross into Canada. From there we expect her to be checking in less while traversing the wilds on Ontario headed north. And of course we wonder if she has company on this flight, with questions lingering about her new mate and how they would migrate and reunite at their northern destination.

The landscape in northern Manitoba is still completely frozen, and we have heard from our friends in Churchill that temperatures were exceptionally cold this winter. Deep snow covers the ground, thick ice covers the lakes, and temperatures are the coldest that Athena will experience for the year. Stay tuned as we may have one more check in before she disappears for the summer months. We also have more announcements coming soon for eagles and other incredible wildlife from Bernheim.

Stay tuned as we follow Athena on her trip north towards her summer nesting grounds in Wapusk National Park.  A special thanks to Beckham Bird ClubCellular Tracking TechnologiesConservation Science Global Inc., 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.

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