Bernheim now tracking golden eagle pair, first of its kind research in eastern U.S.

By Bernheim

Bernheim seeks the public’s help in naming female raptor

Bernheim officials announced today that they are now tracking a second eastern golden eagle, a female and mate of the male raptor they have been tracking for four years. The announcement marks the first time a pair of golden eagles has been tracked in the eastern United States.

In partnership with Cellular Tracking Technologies, the Bernheim team briefly captured the nearly 12-pound majestic female and outfitted her with a GPS satellite transmitter. They are now able to follow her movements along with Harper, the male eastern golden eagle they have been tracking since 2015.

“All indications are that these two are mates,” said Andrew Berry, Bernheim’s Forest Manager. “From the transmitter signals, we can tell they are roosting together, flying together and spending time with one another. We have also observed them on trail cameras together.”

Berry said golden eagles are typically monogamous as long as the male is providing his mate with enough food.

He called the research opportunity extraordinary for a conservation organization like Bernheim and pointed to Bernheim’s size (16,000+ acres) as the reason why the forest is a winter destination for several eastern golden eagles.

“Wildlife of this size needs large forest blocks to thrive,” said Berry.

Berry expects the pair to be at Bernheim through early March and then head north to their summer nesting grounds in Manitoba, Canada. The data Bernheim collects will be shared with the eastern golden eagle working group of which Bernheim is a part.

“This research will inform international conservation practices. We’ll study their migration and feeding patterns. We’ll identify stopover locations and the habitat these raptors require on their journey to and from Canada,” said Berry. “An international effort is required to protect a species like the golden eagle.”
Bernheim’s executive director Mark Wourms, Ph.D. said being a part of an interstate and international research effort is a “golden feather” in bernheim’s cap.

“The data collected and the knowledge we gain will be fundamental to the preservation and protection of this species,” said Wourms. “When you protect umbrella species at the top of the food chain like golden eagles, it positively impacts all wildlife. In this time of rapid land development, habit loss and changing climate, scientific research of this nature is critical.”

According to Wourms, eastern golden eagles found in Kentucky during the winter are distinct from the more abundant population found throughout the western United States. These birds have minimal interaction, if any at all, with the western population.

“We are thrilled to watch and learn from these lovebirds,” Wourms quipped and called the timing appropriate given the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday.

Like her mate, Harper, Bernheim is calling on the public to help in name the female raptor. Harper is named for the brand of bourbon Bernheim’s founder Isaac W. Bernheim sold.

The three name choices for the female eagle are:

Goldie: for the beautiful golden feathers on the crown of her head.
Athena: for the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage and inspiration.
Persephone: for the Greek goddess associated with the changing seasons.

Voting begins Wednesday, Feb. 6, at and ends on Wednesday, Feb. 13. Bernheim will announce the chosen name on Valentine’s Day.

The public can follow the golden eagle research project at Regular updates will be made as the team at Bernheim follows the journey of the two eagles.

Wourms thanked the Beckham Bird Club and private donors for funding this important research and continuing Isaac W. Bernheim’s legacy of conservation. He called a research project of this magnitude very fitting in light of Bernheim’s 90th anniversary.

“Ninety years ago, Isaac W. Bernheim gave us a giant gift — thousands of acres of protected land where people can connect with nature and where plant and wildlife, including golden eagles, can thrive,” said Wourms. “This year we are celebrating the gift of this giant forest in giant ways.”

Wourms said to stay tuned for details about a giant art installation coming later this month.

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