Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wireless Wildlife GPS 1

Early in December I also received the batch of GPS data loggers that will be fitted to resident adult eagles, and be used to inform habitat use and home range.  One such bird was captured and the GPS unit has been operating very well.

To have the first adult eagle in the hand was a magical experience.  There was a feeling mixed between absolute awe at the size and beauty of this female, and coherent awareness of need to get our job done with the minimum stress to her.  The unit was fitted surprisingly quickly, having settled on a pelvic mount design rather than the traditional backpack harness that is typical for raptor telemetry.  This is an emerging technique that has proven very successful on the Drakensberg Bearded Vulture research.  The design was decided on after much deliberation between eagle fundi's and incorporates factors such as speed of fitting, less risk of entanglement during aggressive attacks in forest cover, and the snug fit that doesnt require fine tuned allowances for changes in shape that unit fitted by a chest harness requires (allowances for breathing and flapping, and changes in muscle mass and fat deposits).  These units will also more safely fall away when the teflon wears through and the unit falls off.

Despite many 4am starts, and many attempts at various birds around the study site, other eagles have thus far eluded me.  My techniques were devised for use when there young nestlings.  They are now about a month older than I'd hoped, and as the young eagles fledge in the coming month or two, the adults will be more and more difficult to find.


  1. Ha! I see you taped up those talons!

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  3. Hi. Can I ask how much the adult female weigh?

  4. Mass = 3.9kg

    We taped her feet both for her safety (so she doesnt grab and puncture herself) and ours.

    She was hooded and taped. Were she to escape like this she would have no chance of survival, hence the added security of the cord connecting her leg to Patricks arm throughout the procedure.

  5. Hello !

    How powerful are teh talons and the grip of thie eagle species?
    And how large were the talons?