We caught and GPS tagged the first Verreaux’s eagle for this project back in 2012. It was a breakthrough at the time and watching the first data download onto our base station filled me with excitement for what we would find out.
Here it is. Our first paper “Ranging behaviour of Verreaux’s eagles during the pre-breeding period determined through the use of high temporal resolution tracking”, published by PlosOne today. PlosOne is an open access journal, meaning it is free for anyone to click on the link and download the paper.
One of the great surprises for me was the relatively small home range that these eagles maintained. Considering the inter-nest distances, these small home ranges are expected. But considering the wingspan and soaring abilities of these birds the optimistic dreamer in me had expected soaring over vast expanses. Another surprise was the lack of any obvious difference in the distance and duration of trips away from the nest between the eagles in the natural Cederberg area and those in the agriculturally transformed Sandveld area. Verreaux’s eagles in the Sandveld were also found to be selecting for near-natural and degraded habitats over natural or fully transformed habitats, suggesting that eagles benefitted from some of the agricultural development in this region.
Although this paper is based on a small sample size of eagles, it is the first of it’s kind using high-resolution GPS tracking technology. I am extremely grateful to the UvA-BiTS team for their dedication to developing these tags and I look forward to continuing to use them in our future research on Verreaux’s eagles.