One Year Later, Rehabilitated Golden Eagle’s Path Revealed

Eagle found near the New York - Connecticut border was healed at Tufts Wildlife Clinic
Cummings School Rehabilitated Golden Eagle
March 20, 2012

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Tara Pettinato

GRAFTON, Mass. — A rare golden eagle rehabilitated and released last year from the Tufts Wildlife Center spent the summer around the Quebec/Labrador border, then returned to the New York/Connecticut area where it was originally found, new data has revealed.

The eagle, which was found in Amenia, N.Y.  by snowmobilers in February 2011, had sustained multiple puncture wounds on its left leg, likely caused by an animal it was trying to capture. It was also knuckling on its left foot, and was ultimately transferred to the Tufts Wildlife Clinic for treatment and released last March 25.

Prior to release, the golden eagle was outfitted with a GPS-GSM telemetry unit and a tracking band by Todd Katzner, Ph.D., a research assistant professor at West Virginia University, whose work focuses on tracking the migratory patterns of golden eagles, which, although not endangered, are rare in the eastern parts of North America.

The tracking data has revealed the bird’s flight pattern over the past year (see animations, below).

The State of Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection facilitated the transfer of the bird from a rehabilitator just over the Conn./N.Y. line to Tufts, as well as coordinating its release site.

After its release, the bird remained near Amenia for about two weeks prior to beginning its northern trek, traveling not far from the St. Lawrence River, and then crossing part of the Labrador peninsula into the northern reaches of Quebec. As winter set in, the golden eagle then headed south, resting near the area where it was found.

Data now reveals that the bird has begun its return northward to the Quebec/Labrador breeding grounds.

 “It’s extremely gratifying to all of us here at Tufts Wildlife Clinic to learn that this beautiful bird is doing well and living out its life in the wild, as it should be,” said Dr. Florina Tseng, Director of Tufts Wildlife Clinic.  “It was a privilege to work with such a special bird and to be able to give it a second chance at freedom.”

During its stay at Tufts’ facility in Grafton, Mass., a team of fourth-year students, veterinary technicians, veterinarians and volunteers led by Dr. Tseng treated the eagle’s wounds, splinted its injured foot, and prepared it for re-entry into the wild in the facility’s 100-foot flight cage.

Although golden eagles are a protected species in the United States, they are commonly found only in the western states, Alaska, and Canada. Sightings in New York and New England are exceedingly rare, and occur only during migrations. They are often 50 percent larger than bald eagles, with wingspans that surpass seven feet.

The Tufts Wildlife Clinic treats more than 1,000 wild birds each year, and is one of few stand-alone academic wildlife hospitals in the country. It serves as a regional resource for many veterinarians, health professionals, and wildlife biologists. Skills and knowledge are exchanged through programs of cooperative teaching and continuing education.

The clinic contains all the latest diagnostic, medical and surgical capabilities to house and treat a broad range of sick and injured native wildlife. All veterinary students at the Cummings School are required to do at least one rotation at the clinic, which is funded by the veterinary school and private donations.