Bald Eagle Information and Facts

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus): bird of prey found in North America

The Bald Eagle is the national bird of the United States

The founders of the United States wanted a bird to symbolize a nation they hoped would be strong and powerful and one that could soar high in the sky to represent freedom

To fit this description, the founders chose the bald eagle, which is an eagle species found only in North America

American bald eagles are one of nature’s largest raptors, with wingspans that span eight feet

Even their nests can weigh up to a ton

Female bald eagles are about 25% larger than males

While female bald eagles weigh 10 to 15 pounds, males weigh 6 to 9 pounds

Despite what their name suggests, bald eagles are not actually bald

The name is an old translation of “piebald” meant to describe the colors of the birds, meaning “white head “

Bald eagles are often found near bodies of water to be close to their favorite food – fish

They can catch fish with their sharp scales and sharp talons on their teeth

They also have rough pads on the bottom of each foot to aid in slippery eating

Large groups of Bald Eagles gather along rivers in Alaska when salmon are plentiful

When fish are scarce, they also hunt small mammals such as rabbits, squirrels and even young deer

Sometimes they may scavenge food from other birds or visit human garbage dumps

Bald Eagles are adaptable birds

They are almost always found near water, such as lakes, sounds or seas

Bald Eagles are found throughout North America from Canada and Alaska to Mexico

It is believed that bald eagles bond with each other for life, and the pair builds a nest together

If the eagle likes the nest, the female lays one to three eggs

The mother lays her eggs a few days apart, once a year

Both parents keep the eggs warm day and night until they hatch

The first chick to hatch has an advantage over its younger siblings because it has had more time to grow

The oldest, largest eagle can even kill its smaller, younger siblings over food

This is a survival strategy for the eagles, which ensures that at least one chick gets a good chance to live to adulthood

Most eagles do not survive the first year

While they are young, both parents help take care of the eaglets

The mother does most of the chick-sitting while the father provides the food for the family

At birth, eagles are a fluffy, light gray color

At 12 weeks old, about the time they leave the nest, they turn dark brown

Their head and neck feathers do not turn white until they mature

Bald eagles are believed to mate for life

One way bald eagles impress each other is through a special aerial calling dance in the sky

The male and female strike at each other’s talons and tumble and twist in the air

When bald eagles find a mate, they look for a place to build their nest

They look for a place where the fishing is good, where the trees are tall and where there is little disturbance

The pair then builds their nest high up in a sturdy tree

They continue to add to their nest year after year, with twigs, grass, branches and feathers

Eagle nests can grow massive

The largest nest found in Florida weighed 2 tons and measured 9 feet across and 20 feet deep

The median life expectancy for Bald Eagles is 165 years

Bald eagles are at the top of the bird food chain, and their only natural enemies are bears and wolves

Therefore, the biggest threat to the bald eagle population is humans

Their populations began to decline in the late 1800s when they began to be killed for sport

Later, in the mid-1900s, farmers began using pesticides to protect their crops from insects

Unbeknownst to the farmers, this pesticide use had negative effects on bald eagles, which ate fish from water bodies that had been contaminated by overuse of the poison

The widespread use of pesticides has disrupted the reproduction of the eagles, and forests where the eagles nested have been cleared

While biologists once estimated that up to 500,000 eagles took to the skies, their numbers have declined drastically during this time

Conservation status:

The bald eagle is listed as least concern on the IUCN list of threatened species

It was listed as an endangered species in 1995 and later listed as a threatened species in 2007 as populations recovered from years of decline

Conservation efforts:

In 1978, the eagle was one of the first species to be protected under the Endangered Species Act Later, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed 1982 the Bicentennial Year of the American Bald Eagle and noted June 20, 1982 as National Bald Eagle Day At the time of this resolution, bald eagles were endangered in 43 states

Since their dramatic decline, the use of pesticides has been better regulated

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