The Bald Eagle is found only on the North American continent. Adult male eagles generally weigh about 9 pounds. Adult females weigh in at between 12 and 13 pounds. Adult eagles have a wing span of up to 7 feet. Immature eagles are mottled brown and white. The distinct white head and tail of the mature bird is developed between 4-5 years of age. In the wild, bald eagles live to between 30 and 35 years. In captivity, they have been known to live up to 50 years. They are an irreplaceable indicator for measuring the health of the entire ecological system in which they live. After being listed as an endangered species in 1978 following a dramatic drop in population that began at the turn of the century, the Bald Eagle’s status was upgraded to Threatened on August 11, 1995.
Eagles feed mainly on fish, but water fowl, small mammals and carrion supplement their diet, especially when fish are in short supply. Do you know what carrion is? You might want to look it up, but be prepared – it sounds gross! Eagles can fly up to 30 mph and can dive at speeds up to 100 mph. Their excellent eyesight allows them to spot fish at distances up to 1 mile. Eagles swoop down to seize a fish in their talons and carry it off, but can only lift about five pounds.
Bald eagles mate for life. Courting behavior begins in early April and often involves spectacular aerial displays of eagles diving and locking talons. Eagles lay from 1 to 3 eggs (commonly two) and the eggs usually hatch between late May and early June after a 34 or 35 day incubation period. At four months of age, eaglets appear to be larger than their parents because of their longer flight feathers. These feathers serve as nature’s training wheels, helping the juveniles stabilize during their early flying days. By the end of the summer, the offspring can generally fly and take off to be on their own. Eagles migrate in winter and often roost and hunt in groups along waterways that don’t freeze where there is abundant food.
Now that you know a little bit about eagles, please watch this slideshow. What do you think the eagle and the raven are looking at before the eagle takes flight? Answer will be posted tomorrow!!
This may take a minute to download so please be patient. Eagle and Raven-Medium