eWestern Birds

The Quarterly Journal of Western Field Ornithologists

Vol. 55, No. 1
March 2024
Western Field Ornithologists


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Nesting Bald Eagle Population Numbers, Density, Territorial Resources, and Relationship to Human Development in Northern Colorado’s Front Range
Dana J. Bove, Holly A. Anderson, Matthew A. Smith, and Theo A. Kuhn

ABSTRACT: To better understand the population of the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) nesting along northern Colorado’s Front Range, from 2016 to 2022 we studied 86 occupied nests within an area of 20,586 km2. From 2017 to 2020, 279 juveniles fledged from 237 nesting attempts in a smaller, main nest-study area with 68 nests. The nests’ success over these four years ranged from 52 to 70%, and their productivity varied from 1.1 to 1.3. The average nearest-nest distances for three discrete areas in the Front Range (5.03 to 7.26 km) are at least 2.8 to 4.0 times greater than these distances in four nesting populations in wetter regions but shorter than distances observed between nests in drier Arizona. In our study area the coverage of buildings within 400 m of Bald Eagle nests is relatively low by comparison to the coverage around randomly selected points, averaging 1344 m2; for 63% of the nests this coverage was less than 800 m2. We classified the 86 nest territories into eight categories that describe the dominant resource habitat and predicts the eagles’ reliance on Black-tailed Prairie Dogs (Cynomys ludovicianus) versus fish as prey. Predation on fish was predicted to be dominant at 51% (n = 44) of the nests, predation on prairie dogs at 32% (n = 28).

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