Bald Eagle

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The Bald Eagle is our country's symbol of freedom. It soars majestically over our nation, but only a few short years ago the sight of one was rare due to being near extinction. Read below all about this great raptor and find out what is being done to make sure it continues its comeback.

Description Habitat Danger Programs Resources
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Description:

  • The American Bald Eagle, (scientific name is Haliaeetus leucocephalus ) is not really bald. The name comes from the white feathers on top of its head. The body has blackish-brown feathers and the tail also has white feathers. They have a yellow bill. The male can be up to 34 inches in length and the female is a bit larger gets up to 37 inches. The wingspan can be up to 90 inches! They can weigh up to 14 pounds. There are two main types of bald eagles. The southern bald eagle is a bit smaller than the northern one. The average lifespan is fifteen to twenty years in the wild. The call is shrill and has a high pitch. Soaring happens when the bird is high and is using very little flapping. All eagles have excellent eyesight, including the bald eagle. The tail feathers, when spread out, help the eagle to fly and to brake when landing. 
    **Interesting fact: On June 20, 1782 our country's Continental Congress adopted the American Bald Eagle as our nation's symbol or emblem of freedom!

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Habitat:

  • The bald eagle can be found in all states except Hawaii. Alaska has the largest population. Their favorite food is fish, so they like to build their nests near water like rivers. They build their nests in tall trees. 
    *There have been bald eagles spotted in Perry County, Indiana at the Overlook near our town of Cannelton by the Ohio River! The bald eagle nest is made mostly of large sticks and every year the eagle will add new sticks. This can make their nests enormous over the years making their nests the largest of any birds in the world! Bald eagles migrate, usually beginning when the northern lakes begin to freeze over. They will return north when the weather warms back up. Some bald eagles do not migrate, such as those from Florida.

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Danger:

  • Bald eagles were plentiful when settlers first came to our continent. However, because of humans taking over habitat, and later humans use of DDT, a pesticide, the bald eagle population declined rapidly and by the 1960s they were added to most states' endangered species list. The problem the DDT made is that the eggs they laid were brittle and would break when the female tried to sit on them. Also, it is thought that the DDT caused many to be infertile and not be able to breed at all. Another problem is people hunting them for their feathers or because they thought the eagle would take all the fish in their fishing area. The bald eagle was on the Endangered Species List until 1995, when they were declared not endangered but threatened in the lower 48 states.

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Programs:

  • The Bald Eagle is as yet still considered a threatened species and is protected under the Endangered Species Act. It is a felony to shoot an eagle. The punishment for killing one is to pay a $500,000 fine and up to a year in prison.

  • The Bald Eagle is also protected under the Migratory BirdTreaty Act and also the Bald and Gold Eagle Protection Act.

  • There are many programs of reintroducing bald eagles to their natural habitats. One of them is the American Eagle Foundation:
    http://www.eagles.org/

  • There are also captive breeding programs that are helping to build their population. The San Francisco Zoo has one such program called the Bald Eagle Recovery Project: http://www.sfzoo.org/conserv.html

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Resources:

  • Books:
    * A Time For Singing by Ron Hirschi
    Cobblehill Books, copyright 1994
    * Zoobooks - Eagle by John Bonnett Wexo; 
    San Diego : Wildlife Ed. Ltd., copyright 1983
    * Zoobooks - Endangered Animals by John Bonnett Wexo; 
    San Diego: Wildlife Ed. Ltd., copyright 1986
  • Websites:
    * Those mentioned in programs above
    * "American Bald Eagle Information" :
    http://www.baldeagleinfo.com/index.html
  • * The American Bald Eagle Foundation:
    http://baldeagles.org/
  • Graphics:
    * Logo at top: Some of the animals (mountain lion, manatee, and grizzly bear came from Corel Web Graphics (1996) and Corel Draw Version 9 (2000). The leopard is from
    IUCN-World Conservation Union Website, ghost bat is copyright(c) Perth Zoo, Western Australia, ocelot is courtesy of Tom Smylie of United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, bald eagle (both in logo and at top ) courtesy of Pomegranate Calendars, "Spirit of America", Shaefer & Hill
    * Side bar logo is from Power Point 2000.

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Animation:

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