You may have seen those images of rare jungle cats taken with a “camera trap“. In this project, a large network of collaborators throughout the Appalachians is using the same widely-available technology to learn more about the distribution and abundance of wintering Golden Eagles, which otherwise can be difficult to observe in the field and are under-reported by traditional survey methods. With the assistance of state wildlife agency personnel, we are using road-killed deer as bait at the camera sites, as eagles often feed on carrion during winter. The rugged and remote mountains of the central Appalachians are the core wintering area for eastern Golden Eagles, however they also occur in coastal marshes, the upper Mississippi River valley, as far south as Florida, and a few are reported each year nearby along the upper Delaware River. The Feb 2012 issue of Pennsylvania Game News has an article on the project.
Here are a few representative pictures from our local camera sites near Blue Mountain north of Easton. The first pic shows the only Golden Eagle that visited – must have been passing through because it did not return. More common scavengers at the bait are red-tailed hawks, crows, ravens, and vultures. The sites are also busy at night with a variety of four-legged critters. Big thanks to the PA Game Commission’s local staff for supporting this project.
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