Translator Disclaimer
1 January 2008 Recovery of the Chesapeake Bay Bald Eagle Nesting Population
Bryan D. Watts, Glenn D. Therres, Mitchell A. Byrd
Author Affiliations +

We conducted annual aerial surveys throughout the tidal reach of the Chesapeake Bay, USA, between 1977 and 2001 to estimate population size and reproductive performance for bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). The population increased exponentially from 73 to 601 pairs with an average doubling time of 8.2 years. Annual population increase was highly variable and exhibited no indication of any systematic decline. A total of 7,590 chicks were produced from 5,685 breeding attempts during this period. The population has exhibited tremendous forward momentum such that >50% of young produced over the 25-year period were produced in the last 6 years. Rapid population growth may reflect the combined benefits of eliminating persistent biocides and active territory management. Reproductive rate along with associated success rate and average brood size increased throughout the study period. Average reproductive rate (chicks/breeding attempt) increased from 0.82 during the first 5 years of the survey to 1.50 during the last 5 years. Average success rate increased from 54.4% to >80.0% during the same time periods. The overall population will likely reach saturation within the next decade. The availability of undeveloped waterfront property has become the dominant limiting factor for bald eagles in the Chesapeake Bay. Maintaining the eagle population in the face of a rapidly expanding human population will continue to be the greatest challenge faced by wildlife biologists.

Bryan D. Watts, Glenn D. Therres, and Mitchell A. Byrd "Recovery of the Chesapeake Bay Bald Eagle Nesting Population," Journal of Wildlife Management 72(1), 152-158, (1 January 2008).
Published: 1 January 2008

This article is only available to subscribers.
It is not available for individual sale.

Bald Eagle
Chesapeake Bay
Haliaeetus leucocephalus
population recovery
reproductive rates
Get copyright permission
Back to Top