Rare golden eagles winter in northwest Georgia

Contact(s): Holly Krake, 770-297-3095


Gainesville, Ga. (February 24, 2016) – On a cold winter day in early February, a rare golden eagle lands in the Chattahoochee National Forest less than 15 miles southwest of Dalton. Uncommon in the eastern United States and facing a population decline across the country, the juvenile bird’s multiple sightings underscore the value of active forest management.

 

“A healthy predator-prey habitat for this rare eagle consists of large contiguous forest that offer plenty of sunlight and a low density of trees,” said Ruth Stokes, a wildlife biologist on the Conasauga Ranger District. “For over a decade, we have used thinning and prescribed fire to restore and maintain healthy, open woodlands in much of the Armuchee area, benefitting many species along with the eagle.” 

 

A golden eagle feeds at a research site on the Conasauga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee Nati

A golden eagle feeds at a research site on the Conasauga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest on February 8, 2016. Credit USFS

 

With an average wingspan of six and a half feet, the majestic golden eagle is unmistakable as it feeds at the national forest site set up as part of a West Virginia University research study. Now in its third year, the study will help determine the population size of wintering golden eagles across the southeast.

 

“To have North America’s largest bird of prey wintering right here in Georgia is truly amazing,” added Stokes. “Partnerships and volunteer efforts continue to help us more fully understand this species in decline.”

 

A golden eagle is documented at a research site on the Conasauga Ranger District.

A golden eagle is documented at a research site on the Conasauga Ranger District of the Chattahoochee National Forest on February 7, 2016. Credit USFS

 

Get the latest forest news and alerts by visiting our website at www.fs.usda.gov/conf,  texting ‘follow chattoconeenf’ to 40404, liking us on Facebook, following us on twitter @ChattOconeeNF or taking advantage of our mobile app for your smartphone or tablet.

 

The Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests provide the finest outdoor recreation opportunities and natural resources in Georgia. Featuring nearly 867,000 acres across 26 counties, thousands of miles of clear-running streams and rivers, approximately 850 miles of recreation trails, and dozens of campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreation activity opportunities, these lands are rich in natural scenery, history and culture. The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation's forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.

 

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https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/conf/news-events/?cid=FSEPRD492754