Bald Eagle

bald eagle

Bald eagles are frequently seen in the Cedar River Watershed.

Bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) occur year-round throughout western Washington, with most wintering birds migrants from Canada and Alaska. Nest sites in western Washington are most commonly found in large Douglas-fir and Sitka spruce trees within one mile of open water, where the eagles do most of their foraging. These trees are generally the largest ones available and must be capable of supporting their nests, which can be up to nine feet in diameter and weigh two tons.

Bald eagles also need tall perching sites where they rest and survey the surroundings for potential prey. These are often large snags which give the eagle an unobstructed view of their foraging area. During winter the birds communally roost in sheltered areas. Large congregations of up to 500 birds have been documented using communal roosts.

Their primary prey are fish, although they will take a large variety of animals, including waterfowl and small mammals, as well as scavenge from carcasses of marine and terrestrial mammals.


Our long-term goal, over the next 50 to 100 years, is to both maintain existing and provide new bald eagle habitat in the watershed. Our specific objectives include:

  1. Protect and maintain all existing old-growth forest habitat
  2. Enhance bald eagle habitat by accelerating the development of large trees and snags, especially in riparian forests and upland forests in within one mile of open water


What are we doing?

Both riparian and upland forest habitat enhancement projects should increase the large trees and snags bald eagles need for nesting and roosting more rapidly than would passive restoration alone.

Aquatic and Riparian Habitat Restoration
Riparian habitat enhancement projects include planting conifer trees such as Sitka spruce in areas with few or no conifers, releasing existing conifers in areas where they are being suppressed by dense overstory alder trees, and thinning in dense conifer stands. All of these techniques should accelerate development of the large conifer trees adjacent to open water that bald eagles need for nesting.
View more information on our aquatic and riparian habitat restoration program.

Upland Forest Habitat Restoration
Upland forest habitat enhancement projects are designed as active restoration projects to accelerate old-growth forest conditions in dense second-growth forest generated after clearcut logging. One restoration technique is variable density thinning to provide more growing space for remaining trees. This should provide the large trees that eagles require for nesting more rapidly than would passive restoration alone.
View more on our upland forest habitat restoration program.

Protect All Watershed Habitats
Management of the watershed serves to avoid or minimize adverse effects of major events such as fire, spills of toxic materials, invasive species, and excessive human disturbance. Protecting the forest from fire will likely provide the most benefit for bald eagle. This protection helps to maintain all existing old-growth for eagle nesting and through passive restoration allows second-growth forest to develop the large trees needed for nesting and perching.
View more information on habitat protection.