Conserve Wildlife Blog

Tracking New Jersey’s Bald Eagles

October 29th, 2014

Transmitters attached to juvenile eagles in 2014

by: Larissa Smith, volunteer manager/wildlife biologist

Juvenile male bald eagle (D/95) with GPS transmiter being attached. Kathy Clark/ENSP

Juvenile male bald eagle (D/95) with GPS transmiter being attached. Kathy Clark/ENSP

Since 2011, the NJDFW Endangered and Nongame Species Program and Conserve Wildlife Foundation have been following the movements of young eagles outfitted with transmitters that have fledged from the Merrill Creek nest in Northern New Jersey. Currently, two eagles are being tracked from the Merrill Creek nest.

During the summer of 2014, two juvenile bald eagles were fitted with a GPS tracking device (a wearable backpack). Biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male) and one from Cumberland County (a female) to be tagged in this telemetry study. The male hatched at a nest near Nacote Creek in Port Republic, and wears a green band with code D/95. The female is from a nest on the Maurice River; she wears color band E/05.

The male, named “Nacote” (D/95) had a transmitter attached at 8.5 weeks of age on May 6, 2014 and on May 22, he first moved away from the nest tree. He remained within about 1/4 mile for more than one week as he learned flying and landing skills. He made a bold northern movement in late July, and was in Canada until mid-October when he started heading south.

Nacote made a stop at Six Flags Great Adventure on December 1!

The female,  named “Millville” (E/05)  was about 8.3 weeks of age when outfitted with the transmitter. The banding date was May 19, and she remained close to the nest until late July, venturing out to Delaware Bay marshes and back in early August. In mid-September she crossed the Delaware River into Delaware and then spent most of September along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland before crossing over to Virginia.

The last location received for Millville was on November 17, 2014. On the 24th, we received a call that she had been found dead by the side of the road in Delaware. A necropsy was performed and cause of death was determined to be from electrocution due to a collision with electric wires.

We are lucky that a passerby stopped and contacted us, so we know what happened to her and were able to get the transmitter back. There is a high mortality rate for first year eagles as they learn to hunt, fly and survive on their own.

An interactive map showing Nacote’s current location can be viewed on our website.  It’ll be interesting to see where he ends up this winter!




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