Ten Facts About Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
- The bald eagle, a North American species with a historic range from Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico, is an Endangered Species Act success story.
- As many as 500,000 bald eagles once made their home on the continent. By 1963, only 417 nesting pairs remained. In 1967, the species was declared an endangered species.
- Thanks to federal protection, bald eagles have since staged a remarkable recovery. In 2007 the species was removed from the list of threatened and endangered species. Today, the Service estimates there are at least 9,789 nesting pairs of bald eagles in the contiguous United States.
- Eagles and other birds of prey can see four to five times as far as the average human. Hence, the phrase "eagle eye." Eagles, like most birds, also have superior color vision.
- Distinguished by a white head and white tail feathers, bald eagles are powerful birds boasting a wingspan of up to eight feet.
- Bald eagles live near rivers, lakes and marshes where they can find fish — their staple food. Bald eagles will also feed on waterfowl, turtles, rabbits, snakes and other small animals and carrion.
- Bald eagles can fly at about 65 miles per hour. They can soar to altitudes of 10,000 feet, staying aloft for hours on wind currents and thermal updrafts.
- Bald eagles build their nests atop large trees, typically enlarging the nests each year. Nests may reach 10 feet across and weigh half a ton.
- Bald eagles may live 15 to 25 years in the wild, longer in captivity. Bald eagles mate for life. Courting includes pair perching, bill stroking and spectacular aerial displays, complete with diving and locking of talons.
- Breeding bald eagles typically lay one to three eggs a year. The eggs hatch after about 35 days. Hatchlings usually fly within three months and are on their own about a month later. Eagles do not develop their distinctive white head and tail until their fourth or fifth year.
January 6, 2015