Home on the Winter Range

Courtesy of Hugh Feiro

All of our Bald eagles have one thing in common. They have all spent part of their lives in New York state. Some of them spent their earliest days growing in a New York nest. Others were caught and tagged in winter while dining on Peter Nye's bait.

During the winter months, before migration begins, Peter Nye looks closely at the eagles' behavior. His goal is to identify critical night-roosting, daytime feeding and daytime perch areas. Such habitats are of vital importance to the New York wintering eagle population.

Let's identify the critical habitats of each eagle by studying maps and data of their locations.

Winter 2006 Maps and Data

Use this map to get a general idea of each bird's winter range.
Divide your class into 11 groups so each group can study their own eagle.

Use the maps we've provided to study the "winter range" for your eagle. Click on individual dots for date and exact sighting location.

Your job is to define each Bald eagle's home range or "winter range." (See definitions below.) Make a mini map of the range and try to write the best verbal description you can.

* Hints: Keep an atlas handy. Describe winter range using names of political regions (states, provinces, etc.) and geographical landmarks (rivers, lakes, mountains).

Some Definitions:

Home Range: The area an animal occupies in the course of its normal daily activities.

Winter Range: The area an animal occupies in the course of its normal daily activities during the winter months. (The winter range is simply a seasonal variation of the home range.)

Territory: The portion of the home range that an animal defends against intruders. (The intruders may be of the same or of a different species.)

Journaling Questions

Bald Eagle Home Range
When your class has analyzed the range of each eagle, compare your results and then answer these questions:

  1. Based on data so far, which Bald eagle seems to have the smallest winter range? Which has the largest?
  2. Can you describe a difference between the adult and the immature birds' winter ranges?
  3. Do any of the eagles share part of a range?
  4. How far and how often do the eagles seem to move?
  5. How are the eagles' ranges similar to one another, and how are they different?
  6. What body of water might each eagle be using for food?

Extension: Human Home Range
To put these eagles' movements into perspective, compare them to your own travels.

  1. What is your home range? Describe the area that you occupy in the course of your normal daily activities.
  2. Is your winter range different from your summer range? If so, think of the reasons why.
  3. How does a bald eagle's winter range compare to your own?
  4. How much of your home range do you consider to be your territory?