Spatial and temporal patterns in age structure of Golden Eagles wintering in eastern North America

Journal of Field Ornithology
By: , and 



The behavior of wildlife varies seasonally, and that variation can have substantial demographic consequences. This is especially true for long‐distance migrants where the use of landscapes varies by season and, sometimes, age cohort. We tested the hypothesis that distributional patterns of Golden Eagles (Aquila chrysaetos) wintering in eastern North America are age‐structured (i.e., birds of similar ages winter together) through the analysis of 370,307 images collected by motion‐sensitive trail cameras set over bait during the winters of 2012–2013 and 2013–2014. At nine sites with sufficient data for analysis, we documented 145 eagle visits in 2012–2013 and 146 in 2013–2014. We found significant between‐year variation in age structure of wintering eastern Golden Eagles, driven largely by annual differences in the proportion of first‐winter birds. However, although many other species show spatial structure in wintering behavior, our analysis revealed no latitudinal organization among age cohorts of wintering eastern Golden Eagles. The lack of age‐related latitudinal segregation in wintering behavior does not exclude the possibility that these eagles have sex‐based or other types of dominance hierarchies that could result in spatial or temporal segregation. Alternatively, other mechanisms such as food availability or habitat structure may determine the distribution and abundance of Golden Eagles in winter.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Spatial and temporal patterns in age structure of Golden Eagles wintering in eastern North America
Series title Journal of Field Ornithology
DOI 10.1111/jofo.12325
Volume 91
Issue 1
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center
Description 10 p.
First page 92
Last page 101
Country United States
State New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia
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