A snag is a standing, dead or dying tree, often missing most or all of the smaller branches. They provide critical habitat for many species of both faunal and avifaunal creatures. Snags can be used for nests, nurseries, storage, foraging, roosting, and perching. Wildlife that utilize snags include woodpeckers, brown creepers, tree swallows, wood ducks, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and bats. Hawks, owls, and eagles use them for hunting perches.
The bald eagle has a distinct white head and tail with a massive yellow bill and talons. The male and females look alike, except the female is usually larger. The bald eagle is widespread and can be found in many habitats including water areas, mountains, and open spaces. They are active flyers with slow and powerful wingbeats. They soar often, solo or with other eagles. Bald eagles are social and form communal night roosts in winter. They eat fish, smaller birds, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, and mammals such as rabbits or rodents. They can gorge on large amounts of food and digest over several days, or they can fast for many days if food is scarce.
Bald eagles were abundant in North America until the mids 1900’s, then their numbers declined drastically. The causes were thought to be trapping, shooting, and poisoning from pesticides, which contributed to reproductive failure. In 1978, they were listed under the Endangered Species Act. They thrived while protected and were taken off the list in 2007. Today, they still have threats which include habitat destruction from over-development, environmental pollution such as oil spills, and lead poisoning from bullets in dead carcasses they eat, but their numbers seem to be stable.