The bald eagle is a snowy-feathered, not bald, white tailed bird. It is the proud national bird symbol of the United States yet the bird was nearly wiped out around the 1970’s.
For many decades, bald eagles were hunted for sport and the killing resulted fewer available eagles. Pesticides like DDT also made havoc on eagles and other birds. These chemicals made their way into fish, which make up most of the eagle’s diet. They weaken the bird’s eggshells and severely limited their ability to reproduce. Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs. The result is a wildlife success story. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to threaten.
Though their population numbers have grown, bald eagles remain most abundant in Alaska and Canada. These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their meals by scavenging dead flesh or stealing the kills of other animals. They live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will also snare and eat small mammals.
Bald eagles are believed to mate for their entire life. Immature eagles are dark, and until they are about five years old, they lack the distinctive white markings that make their parents so easy to identify. Young eagles roam great distances. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska.
These animals are beautiful and are the symbol of our home country.