In the winter, bald eagles are more social than your typical bird of prey. Most raptors are paired or alone in the non-breeding season but bald eagles congregate in large numbers where food is plentiful. Visit Conowingo Dam in November and you'll find hundreds of eagles every day.
Eagles have to sleep somewhere so when night falls they roost together. Sometimes a few choose a temporary location. Often a large group roosts in the same place every year.
Roosts are so important to bald eagles' lives that they're protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which prohibits disturbing eagles in any way that "substantially interferes with their normal breeding, feeding, or sheltering behavior." On paper this protects their roost trees from being cut down even when the eagles aren't there.
But the Act can't protect a place no one knows about. Where are the roosts?
To answer this question the Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) has been mapping bald eagle roosts in North America using their own and others' eagle tracking data. (CCB and others have fitted eagles with satellite backpacks.) So far they've located more than 1,000 roosts. Now it's our turn to help.
Do you know of a roost that's not on the map? Contact Libby Mojica at the Center for Conservation Biology (firstname.lastname@example.org, 757- 221-1680) or visit the online registry to sign up.
Click here for more information at the Center for Conservation Biology.
(photo of bald eagles at Crooked Creek by Steve Gosser)