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RMRS-RP-56WWW: A survey of potential bald eagle nesting habitat along the Great Lakes shoreline


Bowerman, William W.; Grubb, Teryl G.; Bath, Allen J.; Giesy, John P.; Weseloh, D.V. Chip. 2005. A survey of potential bald eagle nesting habitat along the Great Lakes shoreline. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-56WWW. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 6 p.

We used fixed-wing aircraft to survey the entire shoreline and connecting channels of the five Great Lakes to determine potential nesting habitat for bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) during 1992. Habitat was classified as either good, marginal, or unsuitable, based on six habitat attributes: (a) tree cover, (b) proximity and (c) type/amount of human disturbance, (d) potential foraging habitat/shoreline irregularity, and suitable trees for (e) perching and (f) nesting. Of the 10,596 km of shoreline surveyed, we classified 7,006 km (66%) as potentially suitable (i.e. either good or marginal) nesting habitat. We evaluated classification accuracy by comparing surveyed habitat suitability with locations of currently active nest sites; 97% of the 117 active nests along the Great Lakes in 1992 were located in suitable habitat, 82% in good habitat. Bald eagle nests occurred more often in good habitat and less often in unsuitable habitat than expected (X2 > 35.02, 2 df, P < 0.001). Potential nesting habitat existed along the shoreline of all the Great Lakes, but was most abundant along Lakes Huron and Superior and least along Lakes Ontario and Erie. Habitat availability may limit the nesting population of bald eagles along Lake Erie, which has little unoccupied habitat, the most use of marginal habitat, yet the greatest density of nesting eagles in the Great Lakes.

Keywords: aerial survey, bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, Great Lakes, habitat evaluation, nesting habitat, potential habitat


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http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_rp056.pdf

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Title: RMRS-RP-56WWW: A survey of potential bald eagle nesting habitat along the Great Lakes shoreline
Publish Date: December 1, 2005
Last Update:
January 14, 2010

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