Immature bald eagles do not acquire the typical white head and tail until they are four to five years of age.
Merrill Creek Eagle Tracking
Follow along with one of our partners, who are also tracking bald eagles that originated from nests in New Jersey!
Bald Eagle Project
We help manage the state's population of Bald eagles. In 2015, there were 161 pairs of bald eagles monitored in New Jersey.
New Jersey was once home to more than 20 pairs of nesting Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). As a result of the use of the pesticide DDT, the number of nesting pairs of Bald eagles in the state declined to only one by 1970 and remained at one into the early 1980's. Use of DDT was banned in 1972. That ban combined with restoration efforts by biologists within the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife'sEndangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) acted to increase the number of New Jersey Bald eagles to 150 active pairs in 2015 and 199 young produced.
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ and ENSP biologists work together to manage and reduce disturbance in eagle habitats, especially around nest sites. Eagles are very sensitive to human disturbance and will abandon their nest sites if people encroach on the area during the nesting season. Education and established viewing areas are important in minimizing disturbance, as are the efforts of project volunteers. Biologists also work to protect habitat in a variety of ways, including working with landowners, land acquisition experts, and through the state's land use regulations.
During the nesting season (late Jan. - July) we host a live web camera (EagleCam) that is situated above a Bald eagle nest inside Duke Farms in Hillsborough, New Jersey.
Bald Eagle Tracking Project
** Please be patient, the map may take a minute to load all data. **
During the summer of 2014 two juvenile bald eagles were fitted with a GPS tracking device (a wearable backpack). ENSP biologists chose one eagle from Atlantic County (a male) and one from Cumberland County (a female) to be tagged in this telemetry study. Then in May 2015 a juvenile male from a nest in Cumberland County was fitted with another GPS transmitter.
- The male (blue line), named "Nacote," hatched at a nest near Nacote Creek in Port Republic, and wears a green band with code D/95.
- NEW! In May 2015 a new juvenile male bald eagle "Oran" was fitted with a GPS tracking device. His movements are depicted in white.
The data collected will help shed light on the life-cycle of non-breeding eagles and can be used to protect communal roost sites under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.
How to use features on the map
Each color line depicts where a particular bird has traveled. Blue = male (Nacote). Red = female (Millville). The current location of the bird is indicated by the point or dot on the map. You can click and drag the point to any location on a line to view when the bird was there. You can also use the calendar (top center) to select a particular date and the point will move to where the bird was on that date. Lastly, to change the type of map you're viewing (default is satellite), click on the box on the top right of the map for standard and terrain views.
** Please refresh or reload this webpage to show the most recent data. **
Eagle Tracking News
The female (red line), named "Millville," was from a nest on the Maurice River; she wore color band E/05. Unfortunately, Millville was found dead on November 24, 2014. Her GPS transmitter was recovered and was re-deployed on "Oran" this spring.
Meet "Oran" or E/17 (white line on map). Oran is a juvenile male bald eagle that was produced at a nest on Delaware Bay this year. He was fitted with a GPS tracking device by biologists with NJ Fish & Wildlife and CWF. We'll post more information about him and his recent movements soon. For now, here are some stats from when he was banded:
USGS band: 0709-01607
Green color band: E/17
Hatch date: ~March 19
Fledge date: ~June 4
Measurements at 8.5 weeks of age:
Culmen: 44.5 mm
Bill depth: 29.3 mm
Tarsus: 15.0 mm
Hallux claw: 35.0 mm
Weight: 3.60 kg
For the past 50 days, Nacote has really settled in on his "home range." The red shaded area is where he's spent 50% of his time. The area is less than 5 sq. miles and most is within Edwin B. Forsythe NWR. Young eagles also have a 50% chance of surviving to adulthood. From a biologists viewpoint, it's amazing to witness how such a large bird of prey inhabits such a small area over a month and a half. It goes to show how important coastal habitats are, especially forested areas where sub-adult bald eagles roost.
The information that we're gathering from Nacote's movements will help us to identify key bald eagle roosting areas. Communal roosting areas can be protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Mapping communal roosting areas can help guide forest management, prevent development in forested areas, and limit human disturbance to wintering bald eagles.
In the past week Nacote moved inland to explore the eastern boundaries of the NJ Pine Barrens. He roosted in stands of Atlantic white-cedar for a few nights inside Bass River State Forest. The availability of prey in these areas more forested areas seems low. His flights covered more area as he was flying and searching for prey. So, we're not surprised that he has moved south again, to portions of Edwin B. Forsythe NWR, along the coast. While along the coast he roosts just west of Historic Smithville Village, and then returns to the impoundments at Forsythe NWR to forage. There are definitely more plentiful amounts of prey at Forsythe during winter months, especially waterfowl including Atlantic brant, black ducks, mallards, buffleheads, and common goldeneyes. With cold temperatures more ice will form and in turn, concentrate waterfowl within the areas of open water to feed on submerged aquatic vegetation.
Nacote has moved inland. He has roosted inside Bass River State Forest near Lake Absegami. It'll be interesting to see if he keeps moving inland, or not. We're still working on figuring out our interactive map. For now we're using a Google Map where points have to be manually uploaded.
Update: We setup a temporary map on the page to show the movements of Nacote. It lacks lines to show his movements to and from points, but at least we have a map! Hopefully we'll get the old map working again soon.
We're sorry for the inconvenience, but we're having technical difficulties with the interactive tracking map.
Technical difficulties aside, Nacote (or D/95, for the green band that he wears) is healthy and in good condition. He has been hanging around at Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville for the past few weeks. Just last week he was photographed there by Kevin Knutsen. While at the Refuge, Kevin was watching a group of 8 juvenile eagles on the ice who were tossing a prey item back and forth. He noticed Nacote "flying low across the marsh over open ice from east to west." He recalls that he his flight was strong and low over the ice. Then Kevin's girlfriend, Susan noticed that he looked different then the others and they noticed the small GPS transmitter (aka backpack). Kevin was able to grab a few snapshots of him!
While we work out kinks with the map we'll plan to share new photos and maps to keep you all updated on his movements.
If you've followed the recent movements of Nacote, then you've seen that he has really settled down near his natal area. For the past two weeks he has been residing in NE Atlantic County, especially Edwin B. Forsythe NWR. Knowing that he was hanging around the NWR, which has a great set of impoundments that you can drive on (Wildlife Drive), we put out a call for photographers to keep an eye out for him. On January 2nd, local nature photographer Eric Hance captured two photos of Nacote.
Nacote is not the only juvenile or subadult eagle who has been seen at Forsythe NWR. During this time of year many juvenile eagles form communal roost sites. Part of this project is to gain more knowledge on the behavior of juvenile bald eagles during the non-breeding season. The data will help protect this valuable habitat for eagles in New Jersey. It's also good to know that Nacote, or D95 is doing well! Special thanks to Eric for sharing his great photos with us!
The last location received for E/05 "Millville" was November 17th. On the 24th we received a call that she had been found dead by the side of the road in Delaware. A necropsy will be preformed to determine cause of death. We are lucky that a passerby stopped and contacted us, so we'll know what happened to her. There is a high mortaility rate for first year eagles as they learn to survive on their own.
About the Eagles being Tracked
The nest on Nacote Creek is difficult to monitor, so the eagle banding crew was walking into the site without knowing the chick's age with certainty. Mick Valent climbed the 70' tall pine tree, and just as he was going over the rim of the nest, the eagle nestling decided to jump rather than wait to see what happened. He was about 8.5 weeks of age, and his wings were adequate to float him to a soft landing on the salt marsh, where he was easily picked up by Dr. Erica Miller. He was fine, and we proceeded to take the standard measurements before attaching the transmitter. "Nacote" was back in the nest in short order. That was on May 6, and according to the transmitter data, he first moved away from the nest tree on May 22, but 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 as of mid-September was in Canada.
The nest where Millville hatched is on the upper Maurice River, in a tall pine with a beautiful river view. Mick Valent made the climb up as the crew watched from the river, and that's where we confirmed there were three eaglets in the nest. With Mick's approach to the nest, two of the eaglets moved away from his side of the 8-foot wide nest and out of his reach. One eaglet, probably the youngest of the three, remained close enough and became one of our study eagles. She was lowered to the ground where she was measured and fitted with the transmitter. She was about 8.3 weeks of age, perhaps a week behind her siblings. 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. As of mid-September she remains in southern NJ.
Bald Eagles Nesting in New Jersey- brochure - 650.8KB
Bald Eagles Nesting in New Jersey- Information for Landowners and Land Managers - 644.8KB
Guidelines for Maintenance at Communication Towers that Support Raptor Nests in New Jersey - 49.4KB
Adopt a Species - Bald eagle - 197.5KB
2015 Bald Eagle Project Report - 2.2MB
2014 Bald Eagle Project Report - 4.8MB
2013 Bald Eagle Project Report - 1.0MB
2012 Bald Eagle Project Report - 1.3MB
2011 Bald Eagle Project Report - 842.7KB
2010 Bald Eagle Project Report - 534.7KB
2009 Bald Eagle Project Report - 430.8KB
Larissa Smith, Biologist: Email
Duke Farms EagleCam
Check out our live webcam and follow the lives of Bald eagles at Duke Farms in New Jersey. Follow along as they breed, incubate, and raise their young.
Adopt a Bald Eagle!
Adopt a Bald eagle and help Conserve Widlife Foundation protect this endangered species in New Jersey.