Monday, December 17, 2012

Trivia Question of the Week

This week's trivia question is appropriately related to eagle migration: How far do bald eagles migrate?

Hint #1: It's not nearly as far as an arctic tern

Hint #2: We've determined these distances through the use of leg bands and telemetry.

Hint #3: Eagles in different parts of the continent move differently. Birds on the Pacific coast don't behave the same way as those in the interior US, those in the interior US act differently than those in the northeast, etc.

Hint #4: It's generally believed that eagles will move only as far as they have to in order to access food.

Hint #5: Some eagles never migrate at all.

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If you guessed, it varies, then you're right! A bit of a trick question, but it's true. Some scientists describe bald eagle movement patterns as being more nomadic than true migration. Migratory birds move seasonally between distinct overwintering areas and summer breeding grounds, usually following a strict migratory pathway. We've been learning that eagles don't travel in quite the same ways. Some eagles have year-round territories; others spend the winter and summer in different places. Some eagles, particularly immature birds, wander around throughout the year in search of food, while others will fly back and forth among several different locations. The more we learn about eagle movement decisions, the better we'll understand just what drives eagles to travel when and where they do.

If you're curious about the farthest distances eagles can migrate, there have been studies showing eagles moving upwards of 2,500 km or more during a single migratory period!

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