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Wintering bald eagle trends in northern Arizona, 1975-2000




Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station


Southwestern Naturalist. 48(2): 223-230.


Between 1975 and 2000, 4,525 sightings of wintering bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) were recorded at Mormon Lake in northern Arizona. Numbers of wintering eagles fluctuated little in the 20 years from 1975 through 1994 (5.5 ± 3.0 mean sightings per day). However, during the winters of 1995 through 1997 local record highs of 59 to 118 eagles increased mean sightings per day to 22.4 ± 9.6. This dramatic population increase led to a major change in social behavior favoring consistent communal roosting; maximum roost counts of 2 to 8 eagles scattered among 11 roosts in prior years shifted to maximums of 33 to 45 eagles regularly using 2 roosts during 1996 and 1997. Winter population averaged 58% adults and 42% immatures, but during 5 recent years of greatest numbers (≥40 eagles in 1989, 1995 through 1997, and 2000), the proportion of immatures increased to 58%. Local increases in the wintering eagle population at Mormon Lake were largely attributable to this greater proportion of immature bald eagles. Both age classes peaked in February, with adults more abundant during October through December and immatures more abundant from January through April. Weekly maximum counts for 1995 through 1997 indicated changing weather and prey conditions resulted in annual variation in local numbers and habitat use of wintering bald eagles.


Grubb, Teryl G. 2003. Wintering bald eagle trends in northern Arizona, 1975-2000. Southwestern Naturalist. 48(2): 223-230.

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