Bald Eagle

(the haliaeetus Ieucocephalus)

By Michael

Bald Eagle's Body

Body Length. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus Ieucocephalus) has sharp curved talons, and inch and a half long for grasping its prey. Their beak is two inches long. You can tell males and females apart because a females beak is bigger. Bald eagles have bare legs. Bald eagles can see small animals such as a mouse or rabbit moving in the grass from a mile away. The largest bald eagle can spread its wing as far as 8 feet from tip to tip. Adult eagles generally weigh 9-12 pounds. Bald eagles can fly up to 30 mph.

 

Food

Fish. Bald eagles mostly eat fish. An eagle may eat four to six fish in a day. Bald eagles mostly fish in the morning and late afternoon. For winter bald eagles need to eat about a pound of food (one or two fish) each day to maintain its weight. Young eagles have to find and hunt for food by itself because they have to learn to survive

Other food they eat. Bald Eagles also eat jackrabbits, ducks, waterfowl, and carrion supplement their diet.

 

Color

Body Color. Not all bald eagles have white heads and tails. Many bald eagles are dark brown all over while others have patches of white feathers here and there.

Babies Color. Baby bald eagle's beaks and eyes are also often brown. They will not grow the white head and tail feathers until they are four or five years old.

 

Mating

Nest. Bald eagles mate for life. The bald eagles return to the same area each spring because it is hard to build a nest. An eagles nest may be eight or nine feet wide, twenty feet deep, and weigh as much as two tons. Bald eagles usually build their nests in treetops.

Eggs. The bald eagles lay two eggs that are ivory-white. In the Southeast, nesting activities generally begin in early September; egg laying begins as early as late October and peaks in late December. The eggs hatch between May and early June after a 34 or 38 day incubation period.

 

Protection

Scientists Protection. Scientists put radio transmitters and lightweight, brightly colored plastic tags to find and locate them an see what they do. They each have a number.

 

Population

Where Bald Eagles can be found. Once bald eagles could be seen in every state except Hawaii. Today this magnificent bird is an endangered species in forty-three states and a threatened species in five states. Parts of Alaska and Canada are now the only homes for thriving populations of bald eagles.

Environment to Live in. Bald eagles need big old trees for their heavy nests but lots of trees have been cut down for lumber or replaced by towns and vacation homes.

How they die. Bald eagles die from landing and running into power lines which electrocute them. Some people kill bald eagles for their feathers. Their feathers are worth money. In 1917 to 1962 100,000 bald eagles were shot in Alaska. The bald eagle has been the National bird of the United States since 1782. The American public supported a series of laws in 1972 that sharply reduced the use of pesticides such as DDT. The bald eagle population was decimated by habitat destruction, hunting, pesticide use and lead poisoning ( from eating waterfowl containing shotgun pellets).

By 1995 the population had rebounded to over 4,500 nesting pairs, allowing the US Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the bird from its list of endangered species.

 

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