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 remarkable 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 summary of the Bald Eagle bird's nesting, feeding, and mating habits follow.
Full-grown, the Bald Eagle weighs between 9-12 pounds and has a wing span of up to 8 feet. It is a very large dark bird with a white head and white tail and a 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 eagles 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 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 capable of lifting about 4 pounds.
Eagles live near large bodies of open water such as lakes, marshes, seacoasts, and rivers, where there is 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 a cliff ledge or in the fork of a tree. Usually, 10-180 ft. high.
The video below shows a Bald Eagle nest and how the male and female switch incubation duties.
Nests materials are added each year making them 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 eggs.
After 34-36 days of incubation, (some incorrectly call the gestation period) the young birds emerge. Eaglet feeding and brooding are performed by both adults.
The adults will bring 4 to 5 of their prey 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 eagles can be sedentary creatures often remaining on the same perch for hours at a time.
This sedentary behavior allows birdwatchers a great opportunity for viewing or photographing.
There are many websites with cams that you can watch live during the nesting season. Just Google Bald Eagle cam.
Arkansas is a hotspot for Eagle Watching check this article out.
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