Tracking Bald Eagle BP91: 2015–2016

Bald Eagle BP91 PortraitBald Eagle #15-0642 [BP91] was admitted to the Wildlife Center in September 2015 after she was found at a landfill in Montgomery County, Virginia. The young eagle was nearly comatose and likely suffering from some sort of ingested toxin; the vet staff also found that the bird had ingested a large fish hook, which was surgically removed. After more than three months of rehabilitation, the eagle was released at Berkeley Plantation in December 2015.

Center staff were able to track the travels of BP91 for nearly a year, from the date of her 2015 release to November 2016 when her movements appeared to stop after visiting a landfill in North Carolina. In April 2017, the bird's transmitter started transmitting data again from one location in North Carolina; a local biologist was able to check the area and quickly found the remains of the bird's body directly under a power line.

During her year of tracking, Bald Eagle BP91 spent about half of her time in Virginia, before she flew to North Carolina, where she died.


After release on December 22, this eagle flew over the James River to Coggins Point. This eagle lingered in the area, flying back and forth over Powell's Creek for the remainder of the year. This creek is along the west border of the James River National Wildlife Refuge, which is a well-known spot to see hundreds of Bald Eagles at different times of the year.

Bald Eagle BP91 route in 2015


BP91 didn't stray far from her December 2015 release location in the months following her return to the wild. That winter, she explored the James River and surrounding areas, frequenting the James River National Wildlife Refuge as well as the Hopewell Wastewater Treatment Plant. In June of 2016, she flew south to North Carolina and spent some time at Lake Gaston that summer. At the end of August, she returned to Virginia and explored Kerr Lake. In October, it was back to North Carolina, where she ended up frequenting a landfill in Person County.

After data transmissions stopped that fall, the staff consulted with a CTT transmitter specialist who reviewed the data; he concluded that the stationary data combined with the lack of charging suggests that the unit was solar panel side down and that the eagle likely died. Center staff were surprised with the bird's GPS transmitter started "pinging" again in April 2017, from the same location in Person County. CTT transmitter specialists suspected that the bird's body was likely disturbed, and the transmitter was charging again in the sun and was able to transmit data. Center staff contacted biologists in North Carolina, and someone was able to quickly respond to the scene. The bird's body was found and the transmitter was recovered. While it's difficult to confirm the cause of death, the bird was found under power lines, indicating possible electrocution.

Bald Eagle BP91 route in 2016