- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 31, 2016

RIVERDALE, Iowa (AP) - Two baby eagles in Riverdale have been removed from their nest to become part of a migration study.

Dr. Trish Miller, a wildlife biologist at West Virginia University, removed the eaglets Monday as a machine raised her 80 feet into the air to reach the nest, the Quad-City Times (https://bit.ly/280MteF ) reported.

The two young birds, named Star and Sky, hatched more than seven weeks ago at an aluminum plant. Alcoa Davenport Works have been publically streaming the two eaglets. They will be among more than 25 eagles being studied as part of the Midwest Bald Eagle Project.

Drew Becker, a biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, said the project is monitoring the migration patterns of birds found in Iowa and Illinois by attaching tracking devices to the animals. He said young birds have the highest rate of colliding with man-made structures.

“The whole point of the project has been there have been issues with eagles getting killed in wind farms, and we want to find out when and why it is happening,” Becker said. “We’re trying to figure out ways to mitigate that.”

Miller said that the animals aren’t trained to notice a wind turbine spinning in the sky.

“One of the central questions is if you know the Mississippi River concentrates eagles, at what times and what conditions are they going off river to feed?” Miller said.

The GPS that not only will track where the bird flies but also its speed and altitude. The transmitter was attached to the birds’ body like a backpack using a Teflon ribbon to create a harness.

“Body feathers help the transmitter stay in place,” Miller said. “We put them on to stay on. It’s too dangerous if they come off,” she said, adding it could become a flight hazard.

Alcoa spokesman John Riches said the project will benefit the city.

“Environment is a key issue for us here, a priority here in the Quad-Cities for a long time,” Riches said.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com


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