Taman Negara Pulau Pinang (Penang National Park) is the only site on Pulau Pinang that supports a large population of the White-bellied Sea-eagle (WBSE) Haliaeetus leucogaster; however, the nesting sites of WBSEs have not been widely studied. As information on the location of WBSE nesting sites is very important for conservation works by local authorities, the objective of this study was to determine the distribution of nesting WBSEs in the coastal dipterocarp forest of Penang National Park. Surveys were conducted from December 2007 to July 2008 and October 2008 to April 2009, covering the breeding season of the species (September-July). The nesting sites were observed by boat along the coastline of Penang National Park and by performing ground surveys along the seashore at accessible areas; the nest survey was conducted three days/month from 0900 to 1500. A total of 34 WBSE nesting sites was located. Most of the occupied nests (seven nests) were found at Muka Head and Pantai Kerachut areas, which exhibit the densest concentration of occupied WBSE habitat in Penang National Park. WBSEs preferred to build their nests around Muka Head, which could be due to the frequent occurrence of whirlpools in the water body around that area. Aquatic animals, such as sea snakes and fish, stunned by the whirlpools would emerge to the sea surface, facilitating the foraging and feeding of WBSEs. Our results indicate that it is important to maintain and improve areas of suitable nesting habitat for WBSEs. Management actions should include (1) the yearly monitoring of known breeding sites throughout Penang National Park during the breeding season to determine breeding success over time, (2) recognising the critical habitat or nest-site selection of WBSEs, (3) establishment of a buffer zone surrounding nesting sites and potential habitat from human disturbance, and (4) encouraging on-going research to further understand this species.
* Title and MeSH Headings from MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.