The Bald Eagle is only found on the North American continent. Some first time eagle watchers become lifetime birdwatchers once they've seen this majestic bird.
Listed for years on the endangered list, they have made a wonderful comeback. With hard work and educating the public, we should never have a repeat of those days.
While no longer on the endangered list they are still a protected bird by federal and state law. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act also protects them in all areas where they reside.
A brief summary of the this birds nesting, feeding, and mating habits follow
Full grown, these birds weigh between 9-12 pounds and have a wing span of up to 8 feet. A very large dark bird with a white head and white tail. Length between 35-40 inches.
This makes them one of the largest birds in North America. Females are larger than males.
Those that reside in the northern United States are larger than those that reside in the south.
Studies have shown life spans of up to 40 years in the wild, and even longer in captivity.
These birds are at the top of the food chain, and can be an indicator of the health of our ecological system.
After significant population declines, they were listed as an endangered species in 1978. By 1995 their status was upgraded to Threatened. It continues to be protected under the Endangered Species Act, the Bald Eagle Protection Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Feeding mainly on fish, they are also skilled hunters. Able to capture waterfowl in flight and rabbits on the run. During fall they will eat the migrating American Coots. Those that are in Alaska will feed on the returning salmon as they return to spawn.
Flight speeds up to 30 m.p.h. have been recorded and diving speeds up to 100 m.p.h.. Their keen eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to a mile.
Catching their prey in their talons and carrying it off, these birds are able to lift up to about 4 pounds.
Living near large bodies of open water such as lakes, marshes, seacoasts and rivers, where there are plenty of fish to eat and tall trees for nesting and roosting.
Bald Eagles have a presence in every U. S. state except Hawaii.
Monogamous and mating for life. An adult will only select another mate if its companion should die.
A Massive platform nest of sticks and vegetation lined with moss and grasses is placed on cliff ledge or in the fork of a tree. Usually, 10-180 ft. high.
Nest are added to each year and can become quite large. Some nests reach sizes of more than 10 feet wide and can weigh several tons. When a nest is destroyed by natural causes it is often rebuilt nearby.
In late May or early June the female will lay between 1 and 3 eggs. These eggs can weigh around 1/4 pound. Raccoons and Crows are the main predators of the eggs. After 34-36 days incubation, the young birds emerge. Eaglet feeding and brooding are performed by both adults. The adults will bring 4 to 5 kills to the nest each day.
At 10 weeks of age the young will have 7000 feathers. At 10-12 weeks old the young will leave the nest. The young are dark brown in color and the head and tail feathers turn predominantly white in their fourth or fifth year.
Only about 50% of eaglets hatched survive the first year. Eagles migrate in winter and often roost and hunt in groups along waterways that don't freeze and have abundant food.
These birds can be sedentary creatures often remaining on the same perch for hours at a time. This sedentary behvavior allows birdwatchers a great opportunity for viewing or photographing. There are many website cams where you can watch live during the nesting season. Just do a search of Bald Eagle cam.
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