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The Lindbergh Foundation Believes that Innovative Science and Technology Hold the Key to Addressing Humanity’s Environmental and Productivity Challenges

Tricia Miller, The Pennsylvania State University, Rector, PA

“Modeling Migratory Flight Characteristics of Golden Eagles to Avert Potential Conflicts with Wind Power Development in the Appalachian Flyway”

Category: Animal Conservation: 2009

The same updrafts used by birds during migration are an essential resource of wind power, which is emerging as a promising source of clean energy for our nation. Wind power development and the potential conflict with wildlife is an important issue at the local, regional, national and international level. Ms. Miller plans to fit 10 golden eagles with the most advanced form of global positioning system (GPS) tracking technology to document their movements as they travel from their breeding grounds in Canada, through the wind power projects in the Appalachian Mountains. This research will be the first project in the world to collect high frequency location data over large spatial and temporal scales and remotely transmit those data via the cellular phone network. This GPS cellular telemetry was developed in the last year and is capable of collecting location data at 30-second or shorter intervals, giving a nearly exact track of an animal’s movements. Ms. Miller will evaluate the altitude, position, heading and flight speed of the birds under a variety of climatic and topographical conditions to create a model that will predict the migration patterns of the birds. The high resolution data collected from this project will be used to create three dimensional probability models that will be provided to the wind industry, land managers and state agencies in the Appalachian corridor to guide wind turbine positioning that will have the least impact on migratory eagles and other birds of prey.

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