In late January, Bryan and Ross headed to eastern Montana to trap sub-adult golden eagles as part of Craighead Beringia South's ongoing study on Golden Eagle Breeding Ecology. Their goal was to capture 10 eagles against a 3-week deadline, outfitting each one with a GPS transmitter. The Eagle Crew was rounded out with the addition of Vince and Step, and on January 19, all four headed out to the field and their adventures began.
They started in the Bull Mountains before heading east across Montana. The Bulls were filled with elk, deer, rabbits, and eagles, and the team quickly trapped their first eagle. Within a few days as they moved across the state, the Eagle Crew had captured a couple more Goldens and had also seen the amazing sight of dozens of Bald Eagles attracted to one bait! As many as 6 Bald Eagles were feeding at one time! (Too bad the project required only Golden Eagles...)
By the time the crew finished up in Broadus things were really rolling as they trapped and outfitted another handful (armful?) of Goldens. One particularly interesting specimen was an adult with whitish colors in its tail and wings, as well as dark eye color, all suggestive of a sub-adult! Its molt patterns designated it definitely as an adult, however. Not all Golden Eagles follow the rules!
As the first week in February wrapped up, the crew worked their last long hours in the field and trapped their tenth and final Golden Eagle. After weeks of 12-hour days spent waiting and watching, the crew is back home safe and sound.
Here's a video we made awhile back that shows how we trap golden eagles, and stay tuned for news as we follow these sub-adults during their migrations!