I examined the effects of weekend and weekday boating activity on Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) use of three lakes in northcentral Florida during 1988-89. On Lake Lochloosa, which had the highest number of boats of the three lakes, boating activity significantly reduced the numbers of all age classes of eagles using the lake (P < 0.025). Increased boating activity on Lake Wauberg was not related to use by eagles (P = 0.06) likely because boating activity was concentrated during midday while eagles typically foraged early and late in the day. On Newnan's Lake, the number of eagles observed also was not different between weekends and weekdays (P = 0.20). Weekend boating activity did not relate to perch use, habitat use, interactions or age distribution indicating no alteration of eagle behavior patterns. Flush distance did not vary between weekends and weekdays (P = 0.96), but did vary by month (P = 0.0001), with a greater flush distance during months with highest boating activity. Minimal flush distances (x?? = 53m) and lack of measurable effects on behavior suggested that eagles in my study area were tolerant of boat disturbance.
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Bald Eagle response to boating activity in northcentral Florida