In the end, "Harper" beat out "Bernie" and "Ike" as the public's favorite name for an Eastern golden eagle that spent the winter at the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest.
Harper was fitted with a GPS transmitter. He left the region March 12, and the transmitter shows that he's now in northern Manitoba, on the Hudson Bay.
Earlier this spring, the public was invited to name the eagle, which will be part of a four-year research project by Bernheim and state scientists. The public can follow Harper at Bernheim.org/join-the-eagle-on-his-journey.
All three names are connected to distiller Isaac Bernheim, whose most famous bourbon was named I.W. Harper. In 1929, Bernheim gave the 14,000 acres to create an arboretum and research forest outside of Bardstown.
"The legacy of Isaac W. Bernheim and our region's bourbon heritage are intrinsically linked, so it seems only fitting that this majestic bird would now bear the name Harper," said Mark Wourms, Bernheim's executive director. "Harper the golden eagle represents a more than 85-year legacy of conservation and connecting people with nature."
The project is a collaboration by Bernheim, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources and the Beckham Bird Club. The research aims to learn more about these raptors during their winter migration through Kentucky.
Wourms said the research will allow Bernheim to learn about the Eastern golden eagles' habitat and their migration and feeding patterns.
Bernheim's large forest is probably an important factor in the eagle's selection of this region for migration, forest manager Andrew Berry said. Golden eagles found in Kentucky during the winter are distinct from the more abundant population found throughout the western United States. Collectively known as the The Eastern birds are thought to have very limited interaction, if any, with the Western population and have much lower population, estimated at 1,000 to 2,500.
"On Earth Day and every day, this golden eagle reminds us of the importance of protecting our land," Berry said.