Local and Landscape Habitat Selection of Nesting Bald Eagles in East Texas

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Throughout their range, Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Bald Eagle) have experienced dramatic population increases, and breeding productivity has returned to levels observed prior to the impacts of DDT. To effectively manage growing Bald Eagle populations, habitat and anthropogenic characteristics influencing nest-site selection need to be quantified at multiple spatial scales. In this study, we examined local and landscape characteristics and anthropogenic features influencing nest-site selection by Bald Eagles in 3 National Forests in east Texas. On a local scale, Bald Eagles placed nests in large super-canopy coniferous trees, with nest sites surrounded by shorter and smaller trees than random sites. Bald Eagle nest sites were best predicted by basal area on a local level and distance to nearest human habitation on a landscape level, as determined by logistic regression. We suggest that conservation efforts for Bald Eagles in east Texas should include allowing forests to mature and reducing disturbance around large water bodies to conserve and create suitable nesting habitat on public and private lands.


Originally published in Southeastern Naturalist, 9(4):731-742 by the Eagle Hill Institute

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