Journal of Wildlife Management
We assessed diurnal activity patterns associated with communal roosts (n = 26) by tracking nonbreeding bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus; n = 58) within the upper Chesapeake Bay, USA, 2008-2013. We used daytime locations (n = 54,165) to map activity shadows (using home range analytics, 90% kernel) around communal roosts, to evaluate the spatial structure and to delineate diurnal activity centers. We overlaid a range (100-3,200 m) of buffers around the perimeter of each roost to estimate the benefits of management scenarios in extending protection to daytime activities. Activity shadows around roosts varied from 1.5 km(2) to 116 km(2) ((x) over bar = 30.3 +/- 5.48 [SE]), reflecting landscape context. Roosts with small (< 10 km(2)) activity shadows tended to have simple shapes with roosts centrally located and positioned along primary shorelines. Roosts supporting large (> 50 km(2)) activity shadows tended to have complex shapes with roosts not centrally located and set back from primary shorelines. Daytime locations were highly concentrated in areas near communal roosts (76% of locations within 2 km of roost perimeters). Diurnal activity centers (n = 38) included areas surrounding roosts and secondary activity centers that were primarily located along prominent shorelines. Communal roosts play a more significant and multi-faceted role in the eagle life cycle than we previously understood. Many of the roosts positioned along the shoreline provided resting places during the night and day, served as social gathering places during the day, and functioned as feeding locations. Evaluation of management buffers supports current management guidelines that recommend the establishment of 800-m buffers. Establishment of 800-m buffers within the study area would enclose 54% of all daytime locations, 66.7% of the area enclosed within activity centers associated with roosts, and 12.1% of the area enclosed in secondary activity centers. (C) 2017 The Wildlife Society.
Watts, B. D. and Turrin, Courtney, Mapping Bald Eagle Activity Shadows Around Communal Roosts (2017). Journal of Wildlife Management, 81(5), 928-937.