Threatened - Bald Eagle
Bald eagles are present on the refuge year-round. Winter peaks for the last ten years range from 40 to 94. The winter eagle population level appears to closely correlate with waterfowl populations and the severity of the weather. The refuge winters a high percentage of the state’s bald eagle population. During the 2003 Mid-winter Eagle Survey the refuge population was 24% of the statewide population. Essentially all eagles observed on the refuge occur on the Big Sandy and Duck River units with little differences between these units. A communal roost is located in a loblolly pine stand on the Big Sandy Peninsula with as many as 71 eagles observed using this roost during the winter of 1999-2000. Bald eagles first attempted nesting on the refuge in 1985 in the Duck River Bottoms. This attempt was not successful. The first successful nest occurred in 1986 on the Duck River Unit. This nest is still active and has been used every year except one since 1986. Currently, there are ten active bald eagle nests on the refuge.
The management activities that enhance wintering habitats for waterfowl also serves to provide for wintering bald eagles. The highest densities of eagles is routinely located in the areas of the refuge with high waterfowl densities. Waterfowl and other water birds serve as and important prey base for wintering eagles.
- The immature Bald Eagle has a prolonged period of exploration lasting for four years. Some young from Florida have wandered north to Michigan, and birds from California have reached Alaska.
- Bald Eagles occasionally hunt cooperatively, with one individual flushing prey towards another. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)