Eaglets at Sandhill Crane Wildlife Refuge receive GPS solar transmitters for migration

Eaglets have hatched at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge. Now the refuge is preparing for its fifth year of bald eagle banding.

Time keeps on slippin’ into the future as two baby bald eagles are preparing to leave their nest. U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries, Mississippi State University, and Mississippi Power are teaming up to track the eaglets during their travels. Mississippi Power Manager of Environmental Affairs Tony Smith said, “We are banding and putting transmitters on two eaglets with partnership with Mississippi State University and we’re really excited about this. We’re going to learn a lot about the migration patterns of these birds.”

Each eaglet was tagged with a special band, bearing a unique number. Attached to their backs are solar-powered transmitters. These transmitters will allow observers to see an eagle’s exact location and where it’s been throughout the day. Scott Hereford with U.S. Fishery and Wildlife Service said, “Putting an identifying marker on an animal allows us to gain all kinds of biological information. Where it goes, what habitat it uses, how long it lives, maybe if it dies, what it dies of, who it hangs out with. So, a lot of survival and eventually nesting if the transmitter lasts long enough which they very well might, it may last several years. So, all kinds of biological information will allow us to better manage eagle habitats on the Coast.”

Now that the eaglets have been tagged, it is time for them to return to their nest. Dr. Scott Rush said, “This is the more fun part, I think, because you’re actually more hands on out here in the field but when you get to see their movement on a daily basis and where they’ve gone to, it’s really exciting. It’s almost like, like you have a peek into their world without them knowing it.”

It is the second year MSU has used solar transmitters to track the eagles. “One day it just took off north, went up to the Great Lakes, over into Canada, up into Canada, then off to the east into New Brunswick, think it went into maybe even Nova Scotia for a little bit before it came down into Maine.”

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