Roost- and perch-site selection by Golden Eagles in eastern North America

Wilson Journal of Ornithology
By: , and 



Birds select critical resources to meet needs that vary in response to spatial, temporal, and individual variation. As an example, perch or roost sites may be at locations that provide protection from predators, mobbing, or inclement weather. Applied to large, soaring predators, this theory suggests that they may select perch and roost sites near food resources or at sites where environmental updrafts develop. To test these theories, we characterized selection of nonflight locations throughout the annual cycle for Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in eastern North America. We determined factors associated with selection of perching (daytime) and roosting (nighttime) sites by eagles by comparing land cover and topographic characteristics of GPS telemetry locations for eagles (used) with random (available) locations. We separately assessed selection for perch and roost sites during each of 4 seasons (winter, summer, and spring and fall migration). Golden Eagles showed different selection patterns for perching by season and age. Throughout the year, eagles selected perch sites on steep slopes. The direction these slopes faced differed among seasons, with eagles selecting south-facing slopes in summer and east-facing slopes during migration. Adults showed greater preferences for broadleaf forests in summer and for ridges in fall. Patterns of perch-site use were consistent with selection for sites that provide thermal protection and access to thermal updrafts. We found few patterns of selection for roosting sites. Our analysis provides insight into decision-making by a longdistance migrant across its annual cycle and throughout its geographic range, and thus into how resource selection changes seasonally.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Roost- and perch-site selection by Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) in eastern North America
Series title Wilson Journal of Ornithology
DOI 10.1676/18-38
Volume 131
Issue 2
Year Published 2019
Language English
Publisher BioOne
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 19 p.
First page 310
Last page 328