Bald Eagle

Species Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus


Species Distribution in Massachusetts


Federal Rank: None

Massachusetts State Rank: Special Concern

Habitat Description

Usually inhabit coastal areas, estuaries, and larger inland waters. This species requires a great amount of shoreline habitat containing stands of forest for nesting and trees projecting above the forest canopy for perching, an adequate supply of moderate-sized to large fish, an unimpeded view, and reasonable freedom from human disturbance.

Threats to Survival

Deliberate killing throughout the 19th century along with loss of habitat caused a large decrease in population. The species was considered a pest for much of the 19th and 20th centuries, and even had bounties on them due to false beliefs that they could kill livestock. DDT and other pesticides in the early 20th century also caused large amounts of deaths in the population.

Actions Recommended to Ensure Survival

Protection and enhancement of potentially suitable wetland and forest habitats, and maintenance of known breeding, roosting, and wintering areas will be critical to long-term conservation of Bald Eagles in Massachusetts. To achieve these objectives, landowners should first work to limit development near shorelines of large water bodies, as loss of nesting habitat is a primary threat to Bald Eagles in the state. Prevention, identification, and remediation of environmental contamination (e.g., lead, mercury, PCBs, and other toxic depositions) are also key to maintaining adequate foraging habitat and maximizing long-term reproductive success and survival of Bald Eagles.