For many decades, bald eagles were hunted for sport and for the "protection" of fishing grounds. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- It is believed that there were as many as 500,000 bald eagles in the US in the 1700s. The bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a bird of prey found in North America. Eagle nests are called aeries (AIR-ees). But laws created almost 40 years ago have helped protect them, and they've made a comeback. Pesticides like DDT also wreaked havoc on eagles and other birds. Some parents come back year after year to the same nest, adding more sticks, twigs, and grass each time. The bald eagle is actually a sea eagle ( Haliaeetus species) that commonly occurs inland along rivers and large lakes. Bald eagles were on the brink of extinction because of hunting and pollution. The result is a wildlife success story—the U.S. It is found near large bodies of open water with an abundant food supply and old-growth trees for nesting. Since DDT use was heavily restricted in 1972, eagle numbers have rebounded significantly and have been aided by reintroduction programs. Bald eagles are believed to mate for life. Though their numbers have grown in much of their range, bald eagles remain most abundant in Alaska and Canada. When they attack, they drop down at up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) an hour! Bald eagles were on the brink of extinction because of hunting and pollution. Its range includes most of Canada and Alaska, all of the contiguous United States, and northern Mexico. A pair constructs an enormous stick nest—one of the bird-world's biggest—high above the ground and tends to a pair of eggs each year. These chemicals collect in fish, which make up most of the eagle's diet. WATCH: Highlights of Cute Baby Eaglets From D.C.’s Eagle Cam, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/b/bald-eagle.html. Bald eagles are the only eagle unique to North America. Then they glide just above the water, snag a fish with their feet, and fly off to eat it. In 2007, the bald eagle was removed from endangered and threatened species list kept by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. This got as low as 500 nesting pairs at one time, but is now back up to over 10,000 nesting pairs in North America. Female bald eagles are a bit bigger than males. When they are four to five years old, they develop their normal white heads and tails. These powerful birds of prey use their talons to fish, but they get many of their meals by scavenging carrion or stealing the kills of other animals. Two eaglets recently hatched at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. from a nesting pair named “Mr. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- They live near water and favor coasts and lakes where fish are plentiful, though they will also snare and eat small mammals. The Bald Eagle has a special place in America as our official national symbol. Their bodies can be three feet (one meter) long, and their wingspan can be eight feet (2.4 meters) across. The Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) has been the lead conservation organization working toward restoration and management of the bald eagle in Virginia. President” and “First Lady.” The bald eagle chicks have been enjoying their first meals of fish, which the parents have been taking turns collecting. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Florida birds have been spotted in Michigan, and California eagles have traveled all the way to Alaska. (Such thievery famously prompted Ben Franklin to argue against the bird's nomination as the United State's national symbol.) Bald eagles ( Haliaeetus leucocephalus) in Homer, Alaska. The bald eagle, with its snowy-feathered (not bald) head and white tail, is the proud national bird symbol of the United States—yet the bird was nearly wiped out there. © Mike Criss. The adult male is about 90 cm (36 inches) long and has a wingspan of 2 metres (6.6 feet). Females, which grow somewhat larger than males, may reach 108 cm (43 inches) in length and have a wingspan of 2.5 metres (8 feet). All rights reserved. A sea eagle, it has two known subspecies and forms a species pair with the white-tailed eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla). Fish and Wildlife Service has upgraded the birds from endangered to least concern. It has a … Their successful recovery is due to years concerted conservation efforts along with the ban on the pesticide DDT in 1972. Bald eagles build their nests at the very top of tall trees so the eggs will be safe. Working with a host of partners, CCB biologists have conducted dozens of research projects designed to answer questions that are vital to the long-term maintenance of eagles and their habitat within the Chesapeake Bay region. In the wild, they can live to be 35 years old or more. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) Recovery The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is one of the species that we pay particular attention to during IDOT avian assessments. Young eagles roam great distances. Also, their beak is dark yellow and its feet and legs are a dull orange. In addition, IUCN’s Red List currently considers the bald eagle as a species of least concern of extinction. Bald eagles can soar over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) high, and their great eyesight lets them see fish up to a mile (1.6 kilometers) away. All rights reserved. The bald eagle is one of the largest flying birds seen in the United States. When it is standing, it is between 30.4 and 36.4 inches tall. 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