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Wildlife

Birds

Bald Eagle Terry L Spivey, Terry Spivey Photography, Bugwood.org

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Federal Status: Threatened

Description: The adult bald eagle is recognized by everyone as the symbol of our country. Adult bald eagles have dark bodies and wings with the familiar white head, neck, and tail feathers. Young eagles are less distinctive, adding the white feathers gradually after one year of age. Bald eagles are large birds, with body lengths of 28 to 32 inches and with wingspreads of 6 to 7 feet. Eagles catch and eat fish and other prey and will eat dead animals along lake and river shores and roadsides. Bald eagles nest in large trees, often near water. These nests are usually located near the tops of the tallest trees and are added to and re-used year after year. Generally, eagles nest in Alabama during October - May, but may stay on the nest until August. Eagles are increasing in numbers across the nation.

Map of Alabama where the Bald Eagle's HabitatForestry Considerations: When forestry operations are scheduled in areas where eagles are known or suspected to nest, care should be taken to search out the area and to protect the area surrounding the nest tree if one is found. Guidelines have been formulated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for the Southeast which recommend restrictions of activities around known eagle nests. Although these guidelines are only advisory and voluntary, following them should prevent human disturbance which can be detrimental to eagles. Some eagles are sensitive to human activities and may abandon their nest if disturbed. Recommended restrictions include no logging or other tree cutting, road building, or use of chemicals toxic to wildlife within a zone ranging from 750 to 1500 feet around an eagle nest site. Human entry, particularly when eagles are present and nesting, should be restricted. Roost trees and potential replacement nest trees are also important to eagles and should be protected in much the same way as nest trees. If an eagle nest is spotted or suspected, all potentially disturbing activities should be halted immediately and the Alabama Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service notified.

Distribution by County: Bald eagles occur in several Alabama counties, usually associated with river systems, lakes, bays, and other bodies of water. Counties with reported eagle presence include Baldwin, Barbour, Cherokee, Choctaw, Covington, Dallas, Elmore, Henry, Jackson, Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Marshall, Morgan, Tallapoosa, and Winston. Other less well documented sightings have been reported in several other counties.

   
Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus)

Federal Status: Endangered

Map of Alabama where the Piping Plover's HabitatDescription: A small shore bird about 7 inches long with a sand-colored upper side and a white underside. They use the beaches for their wintering grounds. These birds may migrate as early as July.

Forestry Considerations: These birds are effected by human disturbance.

Distribution by County: Baldwin and Mobile beaches.

   

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker Jerry A. Payne, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

Red-Cockaded Woodpecker
(Picoides borealis)

Federal Status: Endangered

Description: A small (7 - 8 inches in length) black and white woodpecker, with no visible red. It can be distinguished from other black and white woodpeckers by its large white cheek patch and zebra striped or ladder back. Other small Alabama woodpeckers have either an unstriped white back, a black eye-stripe, or red on the head. The red-cockaded is also the only Alabama woodpecker that lives in living pine trees, drilling a round hole approximately 3 inches in diameter through the sapwood and into the heart of the tree. They also peck out resin wells, half-dollar sized wounds which bleed resin onto the tree trunk. The resin encrusted tree stem is often easier to identify than the bird. It can resemble a large wax candle and is easily seen in the open woods the bird usually inhabits. Other woodpeckers and some animals use abandoned red-cockaded dens, but often enlarge the entrance. The resin on active trees is clear or amber in color. That on in appearance. Red-cockadeds live in small groups in a one to ten acre area called a cluster or colony. They feed by prying off loose bark and feeding on the mites , insects, and larvae underneath rather than by drilling into dead wood like other woodpeckers.

Map of Alabama where the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker habitatsForestry Considerations: Since red-cockadeds require large, old (at least 65 years) pines to nest in, they don’t occur in many places. When encountered in forestry activities, a determination should be made by an experienced biologist whether or not the site is actively used. Den trees and the surrounding area should be left intact until professional advice is obtained. Biologists believe that foraging stands of fairly large pines are necessary for successful management for the woodpecker. Logging or other activity near the den trees during the breeding or brood rearing season may disturb them enough to cause them to abandon the site or to be unsuccessful in raising the young. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and many of the other listed sources in this manual can advise on management when red-cockadeds are present. If there are questions about whether or not the woodpeckers are present or if apparent den trees are active, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Alabama Department of Conservation, or any of the other sources listed in Appendix II at the end of this manual should be consulted.

Distribution by County: Red-cockadeds can occur anywhere in the state where there is old pine timber in open stands. Counties where they are known to occur include Baldwin, Bibb, Calhoun, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Conecuh, Coosa, Covington, Dallas, Escambia, Geneva, Hale, Lawrence, Macon, Marshall, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, and Winston.

   
Wood Stork Andrea Atkinson, National Park Service, Bugwood.org

Wood Stork (Mycteria americana)

Federal Status: Endangered

Description: Wood storks are large wading birds approximately 3 1/2 feet in height with a wing span of over 5 feet. They are distinguished by a dark unfeathered head and neck, a white body, and a black tail and wing tips. Like most other wading birds, wood storks feed on small fish in shallow freshwater wetlands. They use tall cypresses near the water for colonial nest sites. They occasionally visit Alabama’s swamps to forage, but no longer are known to nest in the state.Map of Alabama where the Wood Stork Habitats

Forestry Considerations: Forestry operations in Alabama complying with Alabama’s Best Management Practices for Forestry should not affect wood storks. If nesting should resume here, approriate care should be given to protect the nest sites and the tall cypresses the storks favor.

Distribution by County: Wood storks have been sighted in Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Choctaw, Clarke, Colbert, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dallas, Escambia, Greene, Hale, Henry, Houston, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Mobile, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Russell, Sumter, Washington, and Wilcox Counties.