Bald Eagle Tracking

KDFWR has attached a satellite transmitter to a bald eagle to track its movements. The eagle wears a 70g solar-powered GPS-PTT satellite transmitter, attached externally, like a backpack with a Teflon harness. Solar panels recharge the transmitter's battery and we hope to receive three-five years of tracking data from the eagle. The transmitter will not affect the eagle's ability to fly, forage, or breed. The transmitter, or tracking device, will allow KDFWR to follow the bald eagle's movements and will provide information on the dispersal, home range, migration, roosting and foraging patterns, as well as, the survival of each eagle.

Bald eagle Chief Paduke - tracked since April 29, 2012

Photo by: Bryan Watts, CCB View Chief Paduke's movements now

Track Chief Paduke:

Chief Paduke's Background - Tracking a Nesting Bald Eagle at Ballard WMA

 "Chief Paduke" was captured during efforts to rocket net a nesting bald eagle for Kentucky's eagle tracking research project at Ballard Wildlife Management Area (WMA). Chief is an adult male, captured on April 30, 2012 and is known to nest on Ballard WMA.

Biologists were surprised to find that Chief was already banded when captured. He was banded in 2010 after he had been rehabilitated for a gunshot wound. (Shooting a bald eagle is against state and federal laws.)

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources (KDFWR) initially captured Chief in April 2010, upon receiving reports of an injured eagle. He had been shot at his nest, damaging one wing. He was then taken to Raptor Rehabilitation of Kentucky (RROKI) a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, experienced in treating sick and injured bald eagles. After recovering from surgery, Chief was banded and released at his nesting territory on the weekend of the fourth of July in 2010.

Chief appeared very healthy when recaptured, showing no signs of his prior injury. In 2012, it was known that he and his mate successfully raised 2 young.

Eileen and John Wicker of RROKI releasing Chief after rehabilitation in 2010:


Photos By:  Bobby Cole

Chief is named for Chief Paduke, a legendary Native American chief for whom the nearby city, Paducah was named. Since Chief was banded in full adult plumage (at least 5 years old) in 2010, it is known that he was at least 7 years old when recaptured in 2012.

Upon recapture in 2012, Chief was fitted with a satellite transmitter, attached like a backpack. The transmitter weighs 70 grams and is custom-fit with a harness made of Teflon ribbon. The transmitter will not affect the eagle's ability to fly, forage, or breed. Solar panels recharge the transmitter's battery and we hope to track his location for about 3-5 years to gain a better understanding of home range (territory size), roosting and foraging patterns, migration and survival of adult Bald Eagles in Kentucky. This information will help to inform management decisions and create a better understanding of the habitat needs of Kentucky's bald eagles.

Please visit to view interactive maps of Chief's movements. Or, visit the news pages on our tracking website for more detailed maps and updates about Chief and our other tracked bald eagles.

Project Partners

This project was executed with the help of Bryan Watts of the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB).  Technical assistance was provided by Libby Mojica of CCB. RROKI staff and volunteers provided the treatment and care for Chief Paduke that resulted in his release in 2010. This project was funded in part by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

How was the bird captured?  How was the transmitter attached?  See below for pictures of the entire process...

KDFWR staff baited an area with fish near where eagles were known to nest.
A rocket net was set up in hopes to capture an adult bald eagle.

Photo By:  KDFWR

When an eagle was observed feeding on the fish, in a safe position, the rocket net was fired.

Photo By:  KDFWR

After safe capture, Chief was removed from the rocket net.

Photo By:  KDFWR

After the bird was in hand, it was noted that Chief was already banded and his band number was recorded.

Photo By:  KDFWR

A hood was placed over Chief's face to keep him calm while biologists measured him and checked  his condition.

Photo By:  KDFWR

The eagle was then custom-fitted with a backpack transmitter.

Photo By:  KDFWR

Photo By:  KDFWR

Chief was released at sunset.  The locations from his transmitter show that he flet to an area behind his
nest to  roost for the evening.

Photo By:  KDFWR

Chief was named after Chief Paduke, a legendary Native American chief for whom the nearby city, Paducah was named.

Photo By:  Kate Heyden