Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle’s name origin is an old English word, "balde," which meant white, as in "whiteheaded eagle." Bald eagles are powerful raptors. Male eagles are 30 to 35 inches tall and weigh 8 to 10 pounds. Females are larger than males. Their wings span nearly 7 feet. Bald eagles are strong fliers. They can soar and fly long distances. Speeds vary depending on the bird's needs, but 40 miles per hour is thought to be top speed. The fastest speed of 75 miles per hour is reached when diving for food. They search for fish by flying over water, diving down and snatching the fish with strong sharp talons.

The eagle's diet is 70 to 90 percent fish - live or freshly dead. They also often feed on rabbits, coots, and injured waterfowl. Eagles will eat on the wing, but generally perch to feed.

Bald Eagles’ life span has been recorded at 39 years in the wild and 50 years in captivity. Eagles normally mate for life. They may re-mate within a few months if the first one dies. Bald eagles also build a magnificent nest, often dubbed the “great nest.” It’s great because it is so massive. They build in the opening of a dead tree near water and they build very high up, over 40 feet usually. They add to the great nest each year, much like you do when building an addition to your home. Sticks and branches are woven into a broad platform, perfect for holding two or three young eagles. A bald eagle’s nest can reach 20 feet across and weigh up to 4,000 lbs.

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Photo by Larysa Johnston

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