Happy holidays! Here is the fall/winter eagle update. For more detailed information on where each individual eagle has traveled since springtime, you can view their webpages (linked below) or check out Eagle Tracker. This year we’ve definitively lost four transmitters, and possibly a fifth as well. This is an unfortunate outcome, as we’d certainly hoped to be able to track these birds over longer time frames. Apart from Ch’áak (3M), who was suspiciously absent from his nest site this year, there were no strong indications from relocations that any of the eagles died, but it is always a possibility. So, too, is transmitter failure– these transmitters are not infallible, and the batteries often do not work as planned. It’s also possible the eagles tired of the harnesses and picked them off. With a bill as sharp as a raptor’s, it’s not difficult for eagles to get through the Teflon ribbon if they want the harnesses off! Nonetheless, we’re fortunate enough to still be actively tracking seven individuals, with an eighth that might pop back up if the battery on her transmitter recharges. Here’s what we know:
Shaawát (3E): We’ve officially, permanently lost contact with Shaawát. Her last transmission showed her up on Mount Ripinsky near Haines, close to the Chilkat River where she’s spent much of her time. Because of the nature of the signal and the poor battery performance from her transmitter before we lost contact, it is impossible for us to tell if the transmitter failed outright, if she dropped the tag, or if she died. Unfortunately, however, we’ll no longer be able to keep tabs on her.
Káa (3C): Káa spent the remainder of his summer near Prince William Sound and parts of the Copper River and other watersheds in the area, as seems to be his custom. Most recently he seemed to be slowly headed south. Much like last year, we imagine he’ll skip the Chilkat altogether, and if temperatures up north continue to be mild, he’ll take his time headed down toward BC. We’ve now been tracking Káa for three full years!
Shaatk’ (4P): Shaatk’ stayed very close to Admiralty Island this year. Perhaps she’s scoping out potential partners and nesting sites? She made her way back up to the Chilkat this fall, and her most recent download showed her hanging around the Council Grounds. We’ve been tracking Shaatk’ now for three full years, too!
Shaa (2Z): As is typical for Shaa, he spends most of his time floating among Whitehorse, Haines Junction, and the Chilkat Pass. He’s made a couple forays down to the Upper Chilkat River, but hasn’t returned to the Council Grounds area where the largest congregation of eagles can be found. Shaa, like Shaatk’, Káa, and Shaawát, was a capture from November of 2012, which means we have three full years of tracking data from him now! Let’s hope his transmitter keeps up the good work, because he has been a very interesting eagle to follow.
Xeitl (4R): Xeitl, like Shaatk’, spent most of her summer around Admiralty Island. We haven’t heard from her since early October, however, which could indicate that her transmitter has failed.
Kooshtéeni (4C): Kooshtéeni’s transmitter failed in early summer this year, so we are no longer able to track her.
Kút (3R): Kút likely nested again this year, and continued to stick close to her nesting area at the tip of Admiralty Island until mid-October, when she left and headed up to the Chilkat River.
Ixkée (2T): Ixkée spent most of her summer along the Lynn Canal between Juneau and Berners Bay, before returning to the Chilkat River in early October.
Tláakw (3G): Tláakw spent his summer on Chicagof Island, around Glacier Bay, and along the western edge of the Lynn Canal. He returned to the Chilkat in late October. More recently, he began heading south, and is currently hanging out near Juneau.
Keen (3Z): Keen spent his summer traversing both sides of the Lynn Canal north of Juneau. He made his way back to the Chilkat in early October, and then headed south. He’s currently just northwest of Ketchikan. It will be interesting to see if he returns to Vancouver Island again this winter, as he did last year, or sticks around the Inside Passage, like he did in winter of 2013/2014.
Kínaa (4Y): Unfortunately, we lost contact with Kínaa midsummer this year. With the failure of his transmitter, we will no longer be able to track his whereabouts. The last location we received from him was on the western side of Douglas Island, near Juneau. Keep an eye out for an eagle with leg bands and a white primary feather on his right wing! He may very well still be out there.
Ch’áak (3M): Like Shaawát, Kooshtéeni’, Kínaa, and possibly Xeitl as well, Ch’áak’s transmitter no longer operates. Since he did not nest in his customary place this year, it is possible he died. We’ll keep an eye out in the future to see if he returns to his nesting area on Douglas Island.