New York Natural Heritage Program
Bald Eagle
Haliaeetus leucocephalus (Linnaeus, 1766)
Birds

Habitat [-]
Bald Eagles are typically found near large bodies of water, such as bays, rivers, and lakes, that support a healthy population of fish and waterfowl, their primary food source. Generally, Bald Eagles tend to avoid areas with human activities. They will perch in either deciduous or coniferous trees. Large, heavy nests are usually built near water in tall pine, spruce, fir, cottonwood, oak, poplar, or beech trees. Non-breeding adults and wintering birds are known to have communal roost sites. During the winter, the roost sites may be farther away from food sources. This may be due to the need for a more sheltered, warmer area. Feeding areas during the winter months usually have a high concentration of fish and waterfowl and open water (NatureServe 2005).

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Acidic talus slope woodland
    An open to closed canopy woodland that occurs on talus slopes (slopes of boulders and rocks, often at the base of cliffs) composed of non-calcareous rocks such as granite, quartzite, or schist.
  • Allegheny oak forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites in the unglaciated portion of southwestern New York. This is a forest of mixed oaks with a diverse canopy and richer ground flora than other oak communities in the state.
  • Appalachian oak-hickory forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites, usually on ridgetops, upper slopes, or south- and west-facing slopes. The soils are usually loams or sandy loams. This is a broadly defined forest community with several regional and edaphic variants. The dominant trees include red oak, white oak, and/or black oak. Mixed with the oaks, usually at lower densities, are pignut, shagbark, and/or sweet pignut hickory.
  • Beech-maple mesic forest*
    A hardwood forest with sugar maple and American beech codominant. This is a broadly defined community type with several variants. These forests occur on moist, well-drained, usually acid soils. Common associates are yellow birch, white ash, hop hornbeam, and red maple.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Black spruce-tamarack bog
    A conifer forest that occurs on acidic peatlands in cool, poorly drained depressions. The characteristic trees are black spruce and tamarack; in any one stand, either tree may be dominant, or they may be codominant. Canopy cover is quite variable, ranging from open canopy woodlands with as little as 20% cover of evenly spaced canopy trees to closed canopy forests with 80 to 90% cover.
  • Calcareous talus slope woodland
    An open or closed canopy community that occurs on talus slopes composed of calcareous bedrock such as limestone or dolomite. The soils are usually moist and loamy; there may be numerous rock outcrops.
  • Chestnut oak forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites in glaciated portions of the Appalachians, and on the coastal plain. This forest is similar to the Allegheny oak forest; it is distinguished by fewer canopy dominants and a less diverse shrublayer and groundlayer flora. Dominant trees are typically chestnut oak and red oak.
  • Floodplain forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on mineral soils on low terraces of river floodplains and river deltas. These sites are characterized by their flood regime; low areas are annually flooded in spring, and high areas are flooded irregularly.
  • Hemlock-northern hardwood forest
    A mixed forest that typically occurs on middle to lower slopes of ravines, on cool, mid-elevation slopes, and on moist, well-drained sites at the margins of swamps. Eastern hemlock is present and is often the most abundant tree in the forest.
  • Maple-basswood rich mesic forest*
    A species rich hardwood forest that typically occurs on well-drained, moist soils of circumneutral pH. Rich herbs are predominant in the ground layer and are usually correlated with calcareous bedrock, although bedrock does not have to be exposed. The dominant trees are sugar maple, basswood, and white ash.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Oak-tulip tree forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on moist, well-drained sites in southeastern New York. The dominant trees include a mixture of five or more of the following: red oak, tulip tree, American beech, black birch, red maple, scarlet oak, black oak, and white oak.
  • Pine-northern hardwood forest*
    A mixed forest that occurs on gravelly outwash plains, delta sands, eskers, and dry lake sands in the Adirondacks. The dominant trees are white pine and red pine.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit*
    A community that occurs on warm, dry, rocky ridgetops and summits where the bedrock is non-calcareous (such as quartzite, sandstone, or schist), and the soils are more or less acidic. This community is broadly defined and includes examples that may lack pines and are dominated by scrub oak and/or heath shrubs apparently related to fire regime.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Red maple-hardwood swamp
    A hardwood swamp that occurs in poorly drained depressions, usually on inorganic soils. Red maple is usually the most abundant canopy tree, but it can also be codominant with white, green, or black ash; white or slippery elm; yellow birch; and swamp white oak.
  • Red maple-tamarack peat swamp
    A swamp that occurs on organic soils (peat or muck) in poorly drained depressions. These swamps are often spring fed or enriched by seepage of mineral-rich groundwater resulting in a stable water table and continually saturated soil. The dominant trees are red maple and tamarack. These species usually form an open canopy (50 to 70% cover) with numerous small openings dominated by shrubs or sedges.
  • Rich mesophytic forest
    A hardwood or mixed forest that resembles the mixed mesophytic forests of the Allegheny Plateau south of New York but is less diverse. It occurs on rich, fine-textured, well-drained soils that are favorable for the dominance of a wide variety of tree species. A canopy with a relatively large number of codominant trees characterizes this forest. Canopy codominants include five or more of the following species: red oak, red maple, white ash, American beech, sugar maple, black cherry, cucumber tree, and black birch.
  • Shale talus slope woodland*
    An open to closed canopy woodland that occurs on talus slopes composed of shale. These slopes are rather unstable, and they are usually very well-drained, so the soils are shallow and dry. The canopy cover is usually less than 50%, due to the instability of the substrate.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Spruce-fir swamp
    A conifer swamp that typically occurs in a drainage basin but also can occur at the edge of a lake or pond or along gentle slopes of islands. These swamps are usually dense, with a fairly closed canopy (80 to 90% cover). The dominant tree is usually red spruce. Codominant trees include balsam fir and red maple. In the Catskills, balsam fir may be absent, and in the Adirondacks, black spruce or white spruce may replace red spruce as a dominant tree.
  • Spruce-northern hardwood forest
    A mixed forest that occurs on lower mountain slopes and upper margins of flats on glacial till. This is a broadly defined community with several variants; it is one of the most common forest types in the Adirondacks. Codominant trees are red spruce, sugar maple, American beech, yellow birch, and red maple, with scattered balsam fir.