Harper and Athena continue migration north on separate routes

By Andrew Berry

Migration routes as of March 13, 2019

Migration continues for the pair of golden eagles. Athena is shown to be moving rapidly north and was last documented passing just 20 miles west of downtown Indianapolis, a route not used by Harper in previous years. A delay in Harper’s data transmission has left his route less detailed, although a rough position transmitted and shows he is near Terre Haute about 40 miles from Athena’s track. This position puts him very close to his 2018 track. It is clear they are traveling separately for now.

What is still unclear is whether they will meet up again along the migration or reunite at their final destination. Harper has twice migrated to Churchill, Manitoba, a distance of 1500 miles from Bernheim. We cannot be sure, but we expect him to return to that location again, likely arriving in early April.

Much less is known about the final destination for Athena. My initial guess was that they would both head to Churchill together for the summer breeding season. Since they have taken different tracks north I am now less certain. This is the first pair of golden eagles tracked together in the eastern United States and information we gather during this spring migration will add greatly to our understanding of the species in eastern North America.

It may be that they have the same final destination but enjoy traveling and spending some time apart before the long breeding season. Or possibly it is easy to become separated during long migration flights. The other option is that they are heading to different locations, and their companionship was limited to winter when they paired up to assist in hunting and protecting their territory. Stay tuned, it will be interesting to follow as these two golden eagles move towards Canada.

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