Golden Eagle Project strikes gold, sort of
The luck of the Irish was on the side of Anne Smithﾒs seventh grade class at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School last Thursday, St. Patrickﾒs Day, as they reviewed pictures from the Golden Eagle Project.
As Smith scrolled through the pictures on her laptop, the students watched the projection diligently and recorded the animals that were attracted to the site. Suddenly, Smith let out an excited yelp as what appeared to be a Golden Eagle filled the screen.
The students joined in the excitement as they tried to verify if the bird was a Golden Eagle or an adolescent Bald Eagle. Continuing through the slide show, the students and Smith noted that the Eagle came back to the site three days in a row.
Smith quickly went to tell principal Ruth Bland, who was equally excited as she rushed to Smithﾒs classroom to see the images. The news quickly traveled through the school and students and teachers flocked to Smithﾒs room to get a glance at the Eagle.
Smith sent pictures to the DNR, who partnered with GBEMS on the project, and the experts there determined the bird was an adolescent Bald Eagle.
The project, in its second year at GBEMS, began when the DNR decided to expand a project to study the migration practices of the Golden Eagle. With more than 50 sites in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York, the GBEMS site is a link of a long chain.
Each day, the seventh grade students record the weather and collect data from pictures taken on the site. The motion sensor camera is mounted on a post at the bait site and captures a picture a minute every time there is movement.
This year alone, the site, baited with deer carcasses supplied by the DNR, has attracted crows, ravens, coyotes, foxes, possums, bob cats, black vultures and turkey vultures.
The DNR explained to the class that they may not capture a Golden Eagle because the site is part of a large field and the eagles prefer smaller clearings.
Although they havenﾒt yet seen a Golden Eagle, the students are still excited about finding a Bald Eagle among their ﾓregulars.ﾔ
Because of the schoolﾒs success in capturing images of two types of vultures, the DNR is continuing the project through the school year and possibly during the summer to collect data on the vultures.