The golden eagle known as Harper successfully completed his 1500 mile migration on Saturday, November 3, 2018. With spectacular accuracy he navigated across Fort Knox and flew directly to his preferred range in the Wilson Valley of Bernheim. It was amazing to watch his tracks move directly to his favorite locations from last winter in Bernheim.
As he flew towards Bernheim he made a final ascent reaching heights over 1000 foot, then descended at speeds up to 35 miles per hour directly into the Wilson Valley. He then flew back and forth over Harts Run and the Wilson Valley, at times as low as 20 foot above the ground surface. His movements back and forth across his winter range seemed to suggest that he was surveying the old favorite locations, much as we saw him do when he arrived on his summer range. Last spring he arrived near Churchill and immediately began visiting his preferred spots, including his nest site and favorite hunting locations.
The complete fall migration took just 19 days, beginning on October 16 and ending on November 3, 2018. We saw him use a similar route to his previous migrations, traveling an average of nearly 80 miles per day. Bernheim is elated to finally have the complete spring and fall migrations mapped, and begin to understand the complexities of a golden eagles flight patterns and stopovers.
It really says something that Harper would travel 1500 miles to the wilderness of northern Manitoba, spend the summer nesting, and then fly back to Kentucky in the fall and land directly in Bernheim Forest. This project has highlighted the importance of large protected areas of habitat for this apex predator, both on his summer and winter range. This is just one example of animals that migrate between Bernheim and far off locations, with others including monarchs, bats, raptors, and migratory songbirds. Stay tuned as we continue to interpret and decipher the life of a golden eagle on his winter range in Bernheim.
To see updates of Harper’s entire journey from Manitoba to Bernheim, click here.