Armed with satellite transmitters, golden eagles are telling researchers about windpower generators in Northern Sweden.
To see if windpower farm generators affect golden eagles, researchers at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) have attached satellite linked transmitters onto young feathered foul in five nests where the huge, rare raptor type birds abide in northern Sweden.
Ring marking young eagles is commonplace for scientists in the wild, but this is the first time that both band tagging and satellite transmitters have been attached, according to Tim Hipkiss, project manager with SLU.
He described how they climb up tall trees to find the young birds when they are a couple of months old and have not yet left the nest. However, the youngsters are sufficiently large to carry a "backpack" assembly that houses the satellite transmitter. Hipkiss says that the "bird bugging" procedure takes about half an hour and the equipment will perform for two years.
"We slip in when their parents are not around," notes Hipkiss, who adds that encountering an angry adult eagle at over thirty feet above the ground can be treacherous.
In places where windpower turbines are planned, and also after these have been erected, SLU researchers will study the eagles movements and obtain the birds' positions several times hourly. Hipkiss hopes the information will identify spots where windpower towers, propellers and generators will not disturb the eagles. Other threats include collisions and reduced reproduction due to being annoyed during breeding time at their habitat.
Mostly in Northern Sweden, there are about 500 pairs of golden eagles, and these are protected in throughout the European Union. Later this year, the SLU team plans to capture adult golden eagles and attach satellite transmitters that are built to transmit information for up to five years. Slated to extend through 2012, funding for the project has been granted by firms including the Swedish Energy Agency, Statkraft SCA Wind and Vattenfall Windpower.