Date of this Version
Central Labrador is a notable breeding area for Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) and Bald Eagles (Haliaetus leucocephalus). It is also the location of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) Low level Training Area (LLTA) for fighter aircraft, covering an area of approximately 130,000 km2 over Labrador and north-eastern Québec. Currently, military aircraft based in Goose Bay, Labrador annually conduct 5,000-7,000 sorties and are permitted to conduct up to 18,000 per flying season (DND 1995). The interaction between the two is frequently fatal for the bird and potentially so for the aircraft and pilot. Since the early 1990s, the Department of National Defence (DND) has been monitoring Osprey and Bald Eagles populations in Labrador and north-eastern Québec, within the LLTA, as part of a long-term Environmental Mitigation Program (DND 1995, JWEL 2000). Several studies have been conducted on Bald Eagles and Osprey in Labrador, pertaining to the distribution and productivity of Osprey and Bald Eagles (Wetmore and Gillespie 1976), the diets of nesting Osprey (Chubbs and Trimper 1998) as well as the influence of low-level jet aircraft noise on the behavior of nesting Osprey (Thomas 1998, Trimper et al. 1998) in Labrador. While some literature does exist on Osprey and Bald Eagles and their activities at nest sites in Labrador (Wetmore and Gillespie 1976, DND 1995, Chubbs and Trimper 1998, Thomas 1998, Trimper et al. 1998), there is little information on a host of other key factors that must be considered when attempting to mitigate the incidence of bird-aircraft strikes. For example, the arrival and departure times from breeding sites, the raptors use of the training area typical breeding and home ranges for an active nest site, nest site fidelity, spring and fall migration routes, wintering areas, and migration flight altitudes. The purpose of this study is to track juvenile and adult Osprey and Bald Eagles from nest sites on their fall and spring migration to determine their arrival and departure dates from the LLTA. Studying raptor migration routes and timing is critical for bird strike risk assessment that is an essential information for safe flight planning.