Teton Golden Eagle Project
Beginning in 2015, we began a project focused on identifying nest sites and productivity estimates of Golden Eagles nesting in Teton County, Wyoming. Golden Eagle habitat in Teton County is varied, ranging from the canyons of the Tetons to sagebrush-dominated areas of the Gros Ventre Mountains. In some cases, we consider the habitat where eagles are located as marginal due to the harsh winters and lack of reliable prey. The fringe-aspect of this habitat makes this a very interesting place to study Golden Eagles. While present in Teton County, little is known on this species right in our own backyard! In addition, we are building a strong collaboration with David Haines and Doug Smith in Yellowstone National Park and Dr. Chuck Preston at the Draper Natural History Museum in Cody with the goal of a robust, regional Golden Eagle research and monitoring effort. With our work in Livingston, Montana and now Teton County, our collaborative effort will provide the necessary regional assessment of Golden Eagle population and productivity trends necessary for informed conservation actions.
In 2015, we began our nest searching effort by following up on historic information on nest sites and occupied canyons in Grand Teton National Park. Much of the available information on Golden Eagle presence was gathered during the reintroduction effort for the Peregrine Falcon. Some nest sites were documented but canyon occupancy and Golden Eagle presence were most important for that effort. Since Golden Eagles typically have high fidelity to nesting areas, starting in the historically known canyons was step 1.
In 2016, we expanded our effort outside of Grand Teton and, thanks to the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, were able to increase our search effort in the historically occupied areas of the Park. By the end of the 2016 nesting season, we were able to search 20 historically known territories, confirming occupancy in 14, nesting attempts in 7 and nesting success in 5. As we move forward and learn more about the habits of these birds, we anticipate expanding our research and monitoring effort so we can better understand these birds in this magnificent part of the world!