GPS tracks banded eaglet thousands of miles

Bill Snyder updates us on the migratory patterns of a young bald eagle that began his journey right here in South Mississippi.
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 6:02 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Lots of people have been traveling this summer, but what about our feathered friends?

You might remember five months ago, WLOX was at the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge with Mississippi State University and Mississippi Power for an eaglet banding project. They banded two eaglets, with one also carrying a a GPS device so they could track it’s movements and migratory patterns.

Since that time, this eagle has been quite the world traveler.

“It went out to mid-Mississippi, then it did a series of jumps each day, a couple of hundred kilometers each day,” said Dr. Scott Rush with Mississippi State.

He says it flew through Mississippi, to Ohio, then to the Great Lakes, then to Canada, then back across the U.S border to Maine.

“This being the first bird that we tagged from this area, we don’t necessarily know what their behavior will be. Hopefully this transmitter will last a couple of years and we can see what they’re doing,” Rush added. “The really sweet part will be if it comes back South again and we get the full cycle out of it.”

Others have also been following the habits of this eagle, much like those who follow great white sharks in the ocean.

“The interest in this program has grown exponentially. It has raised a lot of questions. These teachers really get involved in it, they’re interested, they reach out to me,” said Patrick Chubb, Senior Environmental Specialist at Mississippi Power.

They hope the research gives more insight into the resurgence of bald eagles and how that could help other bird species like the American Kestrel (or Sparrow Hawk) increase its declining numbers.

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