Bernheim’s new partner captures photos of golden eagle Athena in Canada
Researchers at Bernheim Forest have for years been studying golden eagle migration between wintering grounds in Bullitt County and summer nesting sites in Manitoba, Canada, and a new partnership is yielding additional insights.
Bernheim has partnered with Parks Canada and Conservation Science Global to monitor golden eagles at their summer homes in Wapusk National Park.
In June, researchers captured photos of the golden eagle presumed to be Athena, who Bernheim has been following since 2019 using a solar-powered GPS tracker.
"We’ve actually been able to see Athena in one of the nests," said Bernheim Conservation Director Andrew Berry. "It’s been really, really cool that we’ve been able to get pictures."
Golden eagles typically nest among cliffs, but Athena has instead chosen a tall white spruce amid the national park’s vast, tundra shrub landscape alongside an 800-acre lake near the Hudson Bay. Below it, pictures reveal a peat bog landscape with rock features and open space.
They’ve also spotted another golden eagle flying nearby that they presume is Athena’s new mate, following the death of her former mate, Harper.
Researchers know less about golden eagles living in the eastern U.S. than the west, which make up 80% of the species’ range, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They estimate there around 30,000 golden eagles across the country.
Bernheim's joint research project hopes to answer important questions about the eastern population of golden eagles. What do they hunt? What threats do they face? How do mated pairs cooperate on the nest?
“It will add a lot more information to what we know about their behavior,” Berry said.
In the meantime, he’s watching to see if Athena will fledge a chick and return to Bernheim this winter with a juvenile golden eagle.
This winter, Parks Canada plans to install cameras on trees nearby Athena’s nest to capture images of her behavior throughout her time in Canada.