The votes are in! The public has spoken! Athena is the name of female golden eagle that Bernheim is now tracking. Named for the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, law and justice, strategic warfare, mathematics, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, and skill, the public chose the moniker for the majestic raptor over Goldie and Persephone.
Athena is the second golden eagle Bernheim is tracking and is thought to be the companion and possibly the lifelong mate of Harper, her male counterpart who Bernheim has been tracking since 2015. Harper, named for the brand of bourbon Bernheim’s founder Isaac Wolfe Bernheim sold, was also chosen by popular vote.
Trail cameras and their GPS transmitter signals indicate the possible ‘lovebirds’ are spending time together possibly making them the first pair of golden eagles tracked together in the eastern United States. Bernheim officials cited the large forest block habitat that Bernheim provides as critical to the preservation of this magnificent species.
In partnership with Cellular Tracking Technologies and Conservation Science Global, the Bernheim team briefly captured the nearly 12-pound majestic female earlier this month and outfitted her with the GPS satellite transmitter.
We know that Athena and Harper are companions who roost and fly together within Bernheim. Now we wait until March to see if they migrate together.
If Athena and Harper end up being mates, we can learn how a pair of golden eagles interact during the winters at Bernheim Forest, through their migration in the spring and fall and on their summer breeding grounds in Canada.
Bernheim Forest is a winter destination for Athena, Harper and several other eastern golden eagles because of our large size at 16,137 acres.
Our research shows that eastern golden eagles need large forest blocks to survive the winter. Athena and Harper are staying within the 5,000 acres of protected interior forest here at Bernheim away from inhabited areas, though we did spot the eagles around Lake Nevin – inside the arboretum – this week.
We expect the golden eagles to be at Bernheim through early March and then head north to their summer nesting grounds in Canada. The data Bernheim collects is being shared with others in the golden eagle research community, with the goal of expanding the understanding and protection of eastern golden eagles.
This research effort could have far-reaching benefits, and demonstrates Bernheim’s leadership in conservation. The capability that we now have to monitor these two rare eagles offers an unprecedented opportunity to gather information that could help protect this species in the future.
Harper and Athena’s activities have already illustrated the importance of large forest blocks such as Bernheim, and other protected land where eagles can hunt, roost and breed to ensure their future existence as a species.
A special thank you to the Beckham Bird Club and private donors for funding this important research and continuing Isaac W. Bernheim’s legacy of conservation.
This year we are celebrating Bernheim’s 90th birthday, and the anniversary of Isaac W. Bernheim’s incredible gift — thousands of acres of protected land where people can connect with nature and wildlife can thrive. What a way to celebrate!
You can follow along with all of our golden eagle research here.