Bald Eagles have been an important symbol in the U.S. since 1782. These ferocious birds look like they’re wearing pants while walking, and several species of birds and animals are scared of them. Here are some facts and attributes associated with these magnificent creatures.
10 Amazing Facts About Bald Eagles
1. A Bald Eagle’s prey spectrum includes more than 400 species!
Bald Eagles are magnificent hunters with an opportunistic diet. Most of their diet comprises of fish and smaller birds. Although Bald Eagle numbers are not as significant as the populations of most other North American accipitrids, they have the second-largest prey spectrum. Only Red-tailed Hawks prey on a slightly larger spectrum of species. Bald Eagles hunt over 100 species of fish alone, often causing a disturbance in certain ecological systems. As a result of this, many humans consider them to be a nuisance.
2.Bald Eagles collaboratively hunt larger prey.
Bald Eagles are strong and aggressive birds of prey. However, while hunting they prefer using smart tactics rather than brute force. If hunting alone, they mostly target fish or smaller birds and mammals, which are clearly easy prey for them. Otherwise, Bald Eagles love to steal food from other birds or gorge on carrion. Only when they hunt in pairs do they take on larger prey such as Snow Geese, Great Blue Herons, Brown Pelicans, American White Pelicans, and Canada Geese. The pair works together, while one bird distracts the prey, the other attacks it from behind.
3. Bald Eagles have the largest nests in North America!
Bald Eagles have nests that can be deeper than 13 feet, and more than 8.2 feet in radius. These massive nests often weigh over a ton. One of the largest Bald Eagle nests was found in Florida and it almost weighed over 3 tons! Unsurprisingly, this nest holds the record for the largest tree nest created by an animal. Unlike some other Eagle species, Bald Eagles mate for life; therefore, a durable nest is crucial. They return to their nest every breeding season, and each nest is used for an average of 5 years. In absence of trees in their native habitat, some Bald Eagles nest on the
4.Bald Eagles aren’t actually bald!
One would assume that Bald Eagles would definitely be bald, but that is clearly not the case. There are two reasons for this species to be named as such. Firstly, their name is derived from a shorter version of the word piebald, which refers to the contrasting black-and-white feathers of the Eagle. Secondly, their snow-white heads shine in the sun, giving them a bald look.
5.DDT could have led to their extinction!
In the mid-20th century, Bald Eagle numbers were rapidly dwindling. Frequent illegal hunting had become the major cause of direct mortality in these birds, which were specifically targeted by some misinformed hunters. Most of these hunters believed false tales that Bald Eagles were responsible for lamb predation and abducting children.
On top of this, the use of DDT had increased significantly in the mid-20th century, and it was severely affecting Bald Eagle populations. Although it wasn’t directly responsible for their mortality, it was leading to mass sterility and thinning of their eggs. As a result of this, by the 1950s, there were only around 400 nesting pairs of Bald Eagles in the U.S. DDT was also affecting the reproduction of many other bird species, so its use was finally banned in 1972. Due to this, Bald Eagle populations bounced back. By the 1980s their total population was supposedly over 100,000.
6.Bald Eagles are the national bird of America!
The founders of the United States often compared their new republic to the Roman republic, and they were evidently inspired by their practices. Eagles were an extremely prominent part of the Roman republic, so they also became an important symbol for America. It’s not surprising that the founders chose the Bald Eagle for the Great Seal of the United States, considering that it’s such a strong and mighty bird capable of eviscerating its enemies.
7. Bald Eagles havean impressively long lifespan!
As we know, Bald Eagle populations have bounced back since the 1970s, and now these birds are flourishing. On average, they live for 20 years in the wild, and for longer in captivity. The longest living captive Bald Eagle lived for almost 50 years! Bald Eagles are also one of the only few bird species which have 100% annual survival rates in certain regions. Most Bald Eagle populations are steadily increasing, but human causes are still responsible for 68% of their mortality.
8.Bald Eagles have the most rapid growth rate in comparison to any other bird in North America!
Bald Eagle young are capable of gaining over 6 ounces in a day. In a matter of weeks since hatching, Eaglets become extremely active and playful. They are known to play tug of war in their nests, practice flapping their wings, and hold items in their talons. By 8 weeks, they bear fruit and are able to begin flying. Bald Eagles are aggressive and competitive from a very young age, they have been observed killing their siblings.
9. Bald Eagles aggressively compete for carrion!
Bald Eagles often scavenge for carrion, which are dead animals. These opportunistic birds are not very selective about the origins of the carcasses that they consume and are known to eat animals as large as whales. Carcasses of large fish are generally preferred by them. In addition, they also scavenge on garbage dumps and steal materials from campsites. Bald Eagles are extremely competitive in scavenging for food, so they often displace birds and mammals from scavenging sites. Animals as large as coyotes and foxes are often disturbed by these ferocious birds of prey.
10. Pop culture representations of Bald Eagles aren’t very accurate.
Being the national birds of America, Bald Eagles are often portrayed on television and in movies. Due to the mighty appearance of Bald Eagles, filmmakers often take the liberty of substituting the vocalizations of this species with the call of Red-tailed Hawks.
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Bald Eagles
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Bald Eagles are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.