Conserve Wildlife Blog

Tracking two New Jersey eagles

November 28th, 2011


by Larissa Smith, Biologist/Volunteer Manager

“Where do the chicks go when they leave the nest?” is a question that I get asked pretty often.  The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ , Merrill Creek Reservoir, and the Endangered and Nongame Species Program collaborated on a new project that will help to answer this question. On June 13, 2011, biologists visited the Merrill Creek Reservoir eagle nest located in Warren County. The chicks, one male and one female, were each fitted with a transmitter attached by a harness made of Teflon ribbon. The solar-powered transmitters, monitored via satellites, allow the birds to be tracked for up to three years as they move away from the nest, migrate south, and move around the region before they begin to establish their own territories.  Following the birds movements will  help us to identify what type of habitat they are using during their first years.

Merrill Creek Reservoir chick with satellite transmitter

Merrill Creek Reservoir chick with satellite transmitter. © ENSP/Mick Valent

The eaglets fledged around July 11th and both stayed in the area of the reservoir into mid- September.  On September 14th the female eagle headed East to Long Island, NY.  She spent time on the eastern most tip of the Island and started heading back to Merrill Creek Reservoir on September 28th.  On October 17,  the female was found on the ground at the reservoir in a lethargic condition. She was taken to the Raptor Trust in Morris county, but she died the following day.  She tested positive for West Nile Virus.

The male eagle headed the opposite direction into PA and on September 19th was just west of the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.  He headed back east and spent time in Bucks county PA before heading back to NJ.  As of November 15th the male was in Warren County near the Musconetcong River.  To see the maps of both of the eagles movements go to:


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