[Bristol-Birds] Golden Eagle captured, banded at Grayson Highlands State Park

  • From: "Wallace Coffey" <jwcoffey@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Bristol-birds" <bristol-birds@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2012 16:02:10 -0500

Golden Eagle


Banded, at



State Park

 Just ahead of a major snowfall in the highland of Southwest Virginia,
 officials from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries,
 Thursday 16 Feb, launched a rocket net and captured a wintering 
 Golden Eagle at a site near the Grayson Highland State Park
 headquarters.  It has been baited  for some time with a road killed deer. 
 The eagle may be just one of two birds which have been frequently 
 coming to the bait.

 After daybreak Sunday, snow was falling hard in Grayson Highlands
 State Park.  By daybreak Monday, the area may have nearly
 a foot of snow.  Mike Seidel of the Weather Channel, out of Atlanta, is
 stationed along I-81 at Wytheville and is reporting live hourly.  He saw
 snowfall reached an inch an hour about noon.  The state park maybe has
 three inches of snow.  The park remains open.

This area and its naturalists and birders are loyal subscribers to the eastern 
most area of the Bristol Birds Net service area.  

 Grayson Highlands is Virginia's third largest state park with just over 4,500 
 acres of land and is located 
in Grayson County, snuggled
against the sprawling
Mount Rogers National 
Recreation Area and the 
Mouth of Wilson, VA. Its 
elevation is higher than in 
any other state park in Virginia.  
From the ridge and valley 
region, outdoors people 
reference the park as the 
"backside" slope of Virginia's 
highest peak of Mount Rogers.

VDGIF biologist Bill Bassinger, 
from Marion, Va with two other 
assistants, had possession of the eagle for 2-3 hours while it was weighed, 
measured, banded, and outfitted with a unit affixed to a backpack harness, in a 
collaborative project that uses cutting-edge cellular GPS-GSM transmitters to 
track the movements of individual eagles throughout the year. 

Within Virginia, the primary goals of this project are to determine winter 
associations, landscape use and ranging behavior of Golden Eagles; determine 
migratory pathways throughout the Ridge and Valley; and evaluate the potential 
impacts of wind energy development on Golden Eagles during the winter and 
migration periods. The device collects data on the location of individual birds 
15-minute intervals during the winter and summer months, even while they are
on breeding grounds in Canada. 

Marci Holland, who is the Assistant Park Manager, has played a major role in
helping with the eagle monitoring and the capture project.  She is a graduate
of East Tennessee State University with a B.S. and Concentrated Major in 
Biology. She has been with the Virginia state parks a little over six years. 
of you not only know her from ETSU but also in her supervisory and 
position for the Cove Ridge Center at Natural Tunnel State Park in Scott Co.,
north of Kingsport -- one of the Bristol Bird Club's major outreach programming 

The wildlife officials and other park personnel went to the famous Sugarlands 
overlook where the Golden Eagle was released. 

The digital camera remains active, monitoring the deer carcass and will be able
to determine if a second Golden Eagle is feeding at that site.

Meanwhile, we are getting to the end of the field season. But some bait sites 
still running, throughout the Appalachians.  Eagles may still show up for 
few weeks, although pickings will start to get more slim as time goes by.

Among efforts at end of their field season is the Tennessee Wildlife Resources

Sterling Daniels, TWRA Survey Manager, Morristown, TN, has been overseeing
the operation of most cameras sites in Upper East Tennessee and the Region
Four area of TWRA. They are sharing their photos of Golden Eagles captured at
baited deer carcass with the eastern project out of the West Virginia 

TWRA has had camera monitoring in the Upper Cumberland Mountain areas of
in Campbell County and was finishing up in Blount County near the Foothills 

Another cooperator in the West Virginia project is Michael Welch, a zoologist 
the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Diversity Unit at 
Elkins, WV.
Michael is another East Tennessee State University graduate.  He is a former 
of the Lee & Lois Herndon Chapter of TOS at Elizabethton.

Wallace Coffey
Bristol, TN

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