Movement and distribution of pre-adult Bald Eagles from southern Ontario and interior New York

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University of New Brunswick


Movement strategies in the pre-adult life stage of some species have major consequences to individual fitness while individuals search for critical resources and avoid risks to their survival. In this thesis, I examined the movement ecology of pre-adult Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) using satellite telemetry. I first compared differences in movement and distribution among siblings and noted that although their movements were separate to their sibling counterparts, they undertook similar movement strategies, which could mean their movements may not be statistically independent. Next, I compared the variation of movements among individual pre-adult Bald Eagles by modelling the effects of age, sex, movement strategies, and season. I found that age and season best explained variation in range size, while sex primarily influenced distances travelled. Lastly, I used satellite telemetry to identify “hotspot” locations, and to compare satellite-tracked spatial relocations to data collected from a citizen science project, eBird (a less costly method of obtaining species locations). I identified the Catskill Mountains and northern shore of Lake Erie as hotspot areas. I also found that in urban and populated settings, Bald Eagle locations are adequately represented by eBird, however locations in less-populated areas such as Canada’s far north do not have adequate eBird documentation when assessing distributions.