We determined the numerical and functional responses of migrant Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) feeding on spawning kokanee salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka) at Hauser Reservoir, Montana from 1991–1995. Number of Bald Eagles was positively correlated with the fluctuating number of salmon carcasses during four of five years. Immigration and emigration rates were similar across years and were facilitated by several behavioral and physical characteristics of eagles: group foraging, communal roosting, and keen eyesight. Number of subadult eagles showed closer synchrony with density of salmon carcasses than did adult eagles. Eagles scavenging for salmon exhibited a Type II functional response. Handling times of scavenging eagles remained constant across the range of salmon carcass densities, whereas daily attack rates increased. Functional responses of scavenging eagles differed between age groups; adults exhibited a Type I response, whereas that of subadults could not be characterized. Handling times of scavenging adults were constant, but those of subadults increased with salmon density. Attack rates of scavenging adults increased with salmon carcass density. Consumption rates differed between age groups and among eagles using foraging modes of scavenging, stooping, and pirating, which suggests that eagles viewed live and dead salmon as alternative prey types. Bald Eagle scavenging of kokanee salmon was inversely density dependent.
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Vol. 102 • No. 3