We studied the postfledging dependency period in bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus), a little studied but important period in the life cycle of avian species. Bald eagles in Florida had a postfledging dependency period of 4-11 weeks (15-22 weeks old). The length of the dependency period did not vary by year of study, sex, number of fledgings, timing of fledging, or hatch order (P > 0.05). Mean distance fledglings ranged from the nest increased with age, but they were observed in the nest or nest tree throughout the postfledging dependency period. Distance from the nest did not vary by sex, number of fledglings, or timing of fledging (P > 0.05). Over 80% of the fledgling observations were within 229 m of the nest. The boundary of the primary protection zone specified in the bald eagle habitat management guidelines for the southeastern United States is 229 m. Restrictions on human disturbance around nest sites should remain in place during the postfledging dependency period because of the close association of fledglings with the nest site. Restrictions also should be flexible because of the varying length of the dependency period.
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Postfledging nest dependence period for bald eagles in Florida