A pair of eagles land near planted carrion and a motion-sensor camera. The setup is part of a study project that local Plumas Audubon helped facilitate in Lassen County that ended in early 2016. Photos by David Arsenault

Plumas Audubon assists in study of Lassen golden eagles

A golden eagle puts on a ferocious game face defending feasting rights of venison to a hungry coyote in Lassen County.
A golden eagle puts on a ferocious game face defending feasting rights of venison to a hungry coyote in Lassen County.

Plumas Audubon is making some giant strides onto the public scene. The local birding group is inviting the public to come view the revamping of its space in downtown Quincy for a variety of special events.

The winners of the National Audubon Photography contest will be featured in a display at the Quincy Audubon office located at 429 Main St. The art exhibit will open Dec. 2 during Sparkle and remain on display in the lofty nesting offices until Dec. 22 when the artwork will move to the next lucky town.

Another new development is the opening of the Plumas Audubon Nature Store in an office space the nonprofit has occupied for the past five years. Field guides, binoculars, gifts and many bird related items fill the store that will open Dec. 2.

The local chapter has been involved in some stellar national projects made possible only by its unique location.

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For example, last fall and winter Plumas Audubon worked with Bloom Biological to document golden

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. It looks like this golden eagle in Lassen County plays by the same rules.
Possession is nine-tenths of the law. It looks like this golden eagle in Lassen County plays by the same rules.

eagles with wildlife cameras.

Focused on research, conservation and consulting, Bloom Biological was hired by the U.S. Geological Survey to study eagles to determine how they might “assist in the management of area land use to minimize impacts on this species,” said David Arsenault, Plumas Audubon executive director.

Bloom Biological is responsible for studying golden eagles in southern Oregon and in northern and southern California. Plumas Audubon helped conduct the study in Lassen County.

This connection led Pete Bloom to come from Santa Ana, to give a talk on birds of prey for Plumas Audubon Nov. 14 at the Mohawk Community Resource Center.

During the talk, Bloom highlighted the golden eagle project and the essential part our local group played in gathering the research data.

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Plumas Audubon set up and maintained six wildlife camera stations in Lassen County in the Honey Lake area from November 2015 through January 2016.

A Lassen bald eagle doesn’t seem to mind sharing a winter feast with a common raven and a few black-billed magpies in January.
A Lassen bald eagle doesn’t seem to mind sharing a winter feast with a common raven and a few black-billed magpies in January.

The motion-activated camera stations were baited with road-killed deer carcasses to attract the eagles. The cameras were checked every couple of days to determine if eagles were visiting the stations and if so at what time of day they visited.

This information was used to establish the best time of day to set a bow trap to catch eagles and fit them for tracking devices. Bow net traps were then set up at the stations to catch an eagle.

These traps look like a half-moon when set. Three eagles were caught and affixed with a solar-powered GPS transmitter for recording location data. The transmitter is attached to the eagle like a backpack.

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Preliminary results showed the eagles moved over large distances in Nevada and California and that younger birds move farther than adults.

Complete details on the study can be found online at www.bloombiological.com.

There are lots of happenings with Audubon in Plumas County including the upcoming Christmas Bird Counts, which will be held in Sierra Valley on Dec. 14, Lake Almanor on Dec. 16 and American Valley on Dec. 17. Beginners are welcome to participate in this all-outdoor event side-by-side with expert birdwatchers.

A gutsy coyote makes a play for a dead deer where a golden eagle and black-billed magpies have already laid claim in Lassen County.
A gutsy coyote makes a play for a dead deer where a golden eagle and black-billed magpies have already laid claim in Lassen County.

On Dec. 7, at MCRC in Blairsden, Jeff Kidd of Kidd Biological will discuss the results of his raptor migration research projects followed by a raptor-banding workshop in Sierra Valley on Dec. 8.

Details on these and all things Audubon are found online at plumasaudubon.org.

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A pair of eagles land near planted carrion and a motion-sensor camera. The setup is part of a study project that local Plumas Audubon helped facilitate in Lassen County that ended in early 2016. Photos by David Arsenault
A pair of eagles land near planted carrion and a motion-sensor camera. The setup is part of a study project that local Plumas Audubon helped facilitate in Lassen County that ended in early 2016. Photos by David Arsenault