DULUTH, Minn. — The golden eagle was cruising south at mid-morning on Monday, perhaps migrating toward the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota. Its day soon took a dramatic turn.
A couple of hours later, the handsome adult male was being fitted with a $3,500 GPS satellite transmitter in the woods behind Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in Duluth.
From now on, the GPS transmitter on golden eagle No. 53 will record its position once an hour, enabling birders with Audubon Minnesota to track its location all year long, perhaps for several years.
“I just got lucky,” said Frank Nicoletti, banding director at Hawk Ridge, who trapped the eagle about 10:30 a.m. Monday. “An adult like this is so efficient at hunting, he may be hungry only one hour a day.”
While a few thousand bald eagles are counted over Hawk Ridge each fall, the counters there see only about 150 to 200 golden eagles each fall. Just 10 have been banded there since 1972, the last in 2001, said Janelle Long, executive director of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Nicoletti, who has been banding raptors for more than 30 years, said he has captured and banded only about 10 golden eagles in his life.