Tracking Saltville Golden Eagle: 2016–2017

Saltville Golden Eagle PortraitGolden Eagle #16-1934 was an immature male Golden Eagle who was admitted to the Center in August 2016 after he was found standing on the road in Saltville, Virginia. The eagle had signs of physical trauma, including an eye injury, though after nearly three months of treatment and rehabilitation, the bird was released at Big Walker Lookout in Wytheville, Virginia.

The eagle was tracked in the winter following his release for about four months before data transmissions ceased from the GPS transmitter.


After his release, the Saltville Golden Eagle remained in the mountainous terrain of southwest Virginia. He showed varied and active movement patterns, tracing many contours formed by alternating ridges and valleys throughout the area, though spent more time visiting the Max Meadows area. Toward the end of the year, the bird spent much more time near urbanized areas, flying over Interstate 81, and remaining within a seven-mile radius of Fort Chiswell, Virginia.

Saltville Golden Eagle Route in 2016


Throughout January and early February, Saltville Golden Eagle spent most of his time moving throughout the familiar valley just north of Max Meadows, Virginia. Despite showing a large amount of movement daily, the eagle remained in an area measuring about three miles in diameter. In early February, he flew 67 miles away from his familiar spot near Max Meadows, visiting the New River and the towns of Draper and Hiwassee before returning to the Max Meadows area. In late February, he took another long trip that spanned over 120 miles before returning to the same spot. In March, he continued this pattern of taking trips to places like Saltville, Brushy Mountain, and Carter Island.  

At the end of March, the eagle's transmitter ceased transmitting new data; it's unknown if something happened to the bird or the transmitter. Golden Eagles typically travel back north to Canada in late March; it's possible that he made the trip without us knowing. 

Saltville Golden Eagle route in 2017