Troutbirder II

Troutbirder II
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Looking For Gold

On January 16th, 2010 intrepid Golden Eagle surveyors Eileen and The Troutbirders set out on their assigned route in Winona county to locate their prey. Golden Eagles associate with the hill and valley country of the unglaciated portions of southeastern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin and north eastern Iowa. Our route was in Minnesota. Oops.... I see I got the map upside down. You'll have to turn your computer over to read the fine print. We had a wonderful five hour outing. Eileen was a great mentor and guide. She is a volunteer at the Eagle Center who works with Scott Mehus the Education Director. Scott is in charge of the Centers Golden Eagle project.

Here Eileen is searching along ridge lines above and adjacent to goat prairies. Goat prairies are south facing slopes which are dry and generally treeless (except for red cedar) The pioneers named them goat prairies due to the steepness. Golden eagles like to soar above them which gives them an open shot at their prey which consists of small mammals and the occasional wild turkey. Apparently they like their meat fresh as they are not known to scavenge in this wooded country.

We clearly identified three Golden Eagles. One was mature and two first year goldens were sighted. All three were soaring. We also saw several eagles perched on the inner portions of trees but distance made a positive identification impossible. The mature was identified by its dark coloration and the somewhat dihedral arch of its wings while soaring. The youngsters were playing chase and tag above us and the underneath white tail and wing markings were very clear.
The above picture is provided by the Eagle Center. You might note that the head of the Golden is much smaller than the tail. In Bald Eagles the head and tail are approxiametly equal in size. This, by the way, is my friend Angel the Bald Eagle. I just put this picture in here because I think she is so cool. :)


In addition, we counted 11 bald eagles (they are much more common than this along the Mississippi river), nine redtails, and two big flocks of wild turkeys and a herd of deer.

Another simple key to locating goldens is that if you see a flock of calm and reposed wild turkeys, it is unlikely a Golden Eagle is soaring nearby.

On the other hand if they are fleeing in terror for cover, a Golden could be soaring above looking for a meal or Troutbirder might be driving down the road in their direction.

12 comments:

  1. What a good day you had! Good tip about the turkeys... gobble gobble...

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  2. Nice post, TB. Love those Eagles. Although, they're not too popular around here in hunting country, as they seem to eat a lot of pheasants. But I feel, everything has to eat, right?

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  3. Worth getting out in the cold for!!

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  4. It sounds like you learned lots and lucky you to see Goldens in the wild! It would be a much desired lifer for me. Maybe next year...

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  5. What a great field trip! ;-) You took some great photos... Angel is a beauty... and you've educated us a bit, too! Hopefully you righted your map before heading home. ha.

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  6. I turned my computer upside down TB but it still looked Greek to me. LOL!!

    What a beautiful sight these eagles must be? Pleae post lots of pictures for us of them.

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  7. Tee hee hee... Love how you just know when a Golden or a Troutbirder is nearby!

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  8. We are very unlikely to see any Golden eagles in this area. Of course the land is very flat here and every square inch is under cultivation.
    Marnie

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  9. Hi Ray,
    were you in Houston or Winona county for these Golden Eagle sightings? That might be another good Saturday or Sunday birding drive for us.

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  10. There has been a Golden Eagle in the county south of where I live. Found on a CBC and refound a week or so later. They are magnificent creatures. One that we don't often see here in SW IN.

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  11. What a great post. It must have been such a good time. Lucky day.

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