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Conserving the Nature of America
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.
Life History and Conservation Success
The Bald Eagle's recovery is an American success story. It no longer needs the protection of the Endangered Species Act because its population is protected, healthy, and growing. Here are some facts about the bald eagle and its journey to recovery.
Why the Bald Eagle almost went extinct in this country
- Habitat was lost when virgin forests were cleared
- Animals that eagles eat (like shorebirds and ducks) also declined because of overhunting
- Eagles were shot because they were thought to threaten livestock
- DDT, an insecticide with widespread use, built up in adult eagles and caused them to lay thin-shelled eggs that cracked before the chicks could hatch.
What we did to bring the Bald Eagle back
- We banned DDT
- We prohibited killing of eagles
- We improved water quality in many of our lakes and rivers
- We protected nest sites
- We restored eagles back to areas where they had been eliminated
Some bald eagle biology facts
- The Bald Eagle is truly an all-American bird; it is the only eagle unique to North America.
- Nests are sometimes used year after year and can weigh as much as 4,000 pounds
- Bald Eagles may live 30 years in the wild (even longer in captivity)
- Bald Eagles pair for life, but if one dies, the survivor will accept a new mate.
- In hot climates, like Louisiana and Florida, Bald Eagles nest during winter
- Bald eagles get their distinctive white head and tail only after they reach maturity at 4 to 5 years of age.
Questions and Answers About Bald Eagle Recovery (June 2007)
Fact Sheet: Natural History, Ecology, and History of Recovery (Updated June 2007)