Progress Towards a Predictive Eagle Behavior and Risk Modeling Framework: Overview and Recent Validation Efforts

Eliot Quon, Charles Tripp, Rimple Sandhu, Regis Thedin, Cris Hein, Betsy Sara, Bob Thresher, Chris Farmer, Ted Owen, Trish Miller, David Brandes

Research output: NRELPresentation


This presentation summarizes progress to date of the U.S. Department of Energy project, "Development of a computational framework for modeling golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) near wind farms," which focuses on stochastic behavioral modeling of soaring raptors across landscape, facility, and turbine spatiotemporal scales. This publicly available, open-source modeling framework includes behavioral models based on three different underlying principles: energy minimization at landscape scale, behavioral heuristics at landscape-facility scale, and data-driven behaviors at the facility-micro-scale. We will briefly overview the key advancements in the behavioral modeling state of the art, which leverages multiple high-resolution telemetry data sources combined with high-fidelity atmospheric flow modeling insights. We then present preliminary results from a validation study in Altamont, California. This new study involves a novel application of the Stochastic Soaring Raptor Simulator (SSRS), in a new geographic locale, to understand facility scale eagle movement patterns over time scales representative of a wind project's lifetime. For this desktop analysis (that does not depend on any high-performance computing resources), SSRS simultaneously considers a variety of wind conditions and eagle approach vectors toward a project site of interest. This work demonstrates the integration of publicly available landscape-scale atmospheric datasets, our recently improved engineering updraft models (see presentation from Thedin et al.), and our energy minimization behavioral models within the SSRS framework. While we only present results from a single behavioral model, the integration of these three modeling components forms the foundation for our more sophisticated behavioral models (see presentations from Brandes et al., Sandhu et al.) that are under active development. Results are presented in the form of presence maps, which may be applied to estimate risk to wildlife, augment ground survey data, inform wind-plant operations, or incorporated into wind-plant designs.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NamePresented at the 14th Wind Wildlife Research Meeting, 15-17 November 2022, Kansas City, Missouri

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5000-84549


  • agent-based modeling
  • behavior modeling
  • ecological modeling
  • golden eagles
  • raptor conservation
  • stochastic modeling
  • wind-wildlife interactions


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