Tracking Bald Eagle SML52: 2015–2016

Bald Eagle SML52 portraitBald Eagle #15-1261 [SML52] was a female hatch-year eaglet admitted to the Wildlife Center in June 2015 after she fell from her nest at Smith Mountain Lake. After nearly four months of rehabilitation, the young eagle was released in October back at Smith Mountain Lake State Park.

Center staff were able to track the young Bald Eagle for about seven months before data transmissions from the bird's transmitter stopped. It's unclear if the transmitter failed or fell off the bird or if the young eagle died.


Bald Eagle SML52 didn't stay in Virginia very long following her release; by the end of October, the young bird had flown to North Carolina.  She explored several different bodies of water (plus a fish hatchery) before she reached South Carolina in early November. SML52 spent the end of 2015 in and around Lowrys, South Carolina, where she frequently roosted in a stand of trees in the middle of a field.

Bald Eagle SML52 route in 2015


Bald Eagle SML52 lingered within a 35-mile radius near Lowrys, South Carolina until the end of February when she started to move farther afield. She started by flying South to Lake Watertree and then changed course, shooting northward and spending the second half of March looping around Winston Salem, Greensboro, Chapel Hill, and Durham, North Carolina. On April 12, she returned to her original release location in Smith Mountain, Virginia! She lingered at Smith Mountain Lake for a month before she flew back to Asheboro, North Carolina on May 23. Unfortunately, this was her last check-in; the battery on her transmitter may have died or her transmitter may have malfunctioned. 

Bald Eagle SML52 route in 2016